A tri-tip cut will usually come with a fat lining the outside of it, so this step will first consist of trimming it.
This lining is sometimes referred to as “silver skin.” You want to slice this thick, tough layer of fat since it will not melt off during grilling.
You don’t have to be too careful or trim it too neatly.
As a general rule, it is best to trim more fat off of the thinner sections than the thicker ones.
Keep in mind that the more fat you leave on, the more moist your steak will be.
However, by leaving fat on the steak, it will increase the chance of flare-up during cooking, so if you don’t plan on eyeballing it every few minutes, simply trim the fat down until you see the grain.
To prep the tri-tip, pat it down dry after you’ve trimmed it and make sure all the excess moisture is absorbed.
This ensures that your meat will soak up your delicious marinade while you wait.
Simply combine all of the marinade ingredients (white vinegar, vegetable oil, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, and minced garlic) into a small bowl, whisking it as well as you can.
Once that is done, pour the marinade into a resealable bag and add the meat so that it gets fully coated.
Keep in mind that the thicker parts will need to be massaged a bit to absorb more of the marinade.
A tip to get more flavor in faster is to do all of this in a bowl and let your children pierce the meat with a fork (which tenderizes it and allows the marinade to seep in!)
Seal the meat and marinade mixture and place it in the fridge for 2 to 6 hours or let it sit overnight.
Remove the tri-tip from the refrigerator an hour before cooking so that it can warm up to room-temperature before cooking.
If you’re using a charcoal grill (and if you do, you should read our article on the most delicious smoke flavors!), light one chimney full of charcoal and wait for it to heat.
When all of it is covered with white ash, arrange the coals on one side of the cooker to set up a zone for direct and indirect heat.
On the other side of the cooker without any coals, place a foil-lined water pan to collect fat drippings and cooking your meat at a lower temperature.
If you have them at this point, you can place your wood chunks directly over the coals.
Set the cooking grate in place, shut the lid and preheat for about 5 minutes.
While waiting, remove the meat from its marinade and rub some salt and pepper to the outside.
Sear your steak fat-side down on the direct heat with the lid of the grill wide open.
One side will take about 7 minutes.
Make sure to check for flare-ups if you’ve left a decent amount of fat on.
In case of flare-ups, temporarily move the steak to the indirect heat zone.
Do the same for the other side while keeping an eye on your soon-to-be delicious tri-tip!
Once you’ve seared both sides, move the steak to the indirect heat zone above the foil-lined pan. Close the lid and let it cook for 10 minutes.
Your tri-tip should continue cooking but it will cool to within 5-10 degrees F of its target pull temperature.
For a medium-rare steak, it will register 120 F in the thickest portion of the meat.
The total cook time should be about 25 minutes since the meat will rise in temperature even after you’ve taken it out of the grill.
The reason why we’re combining high-heat, direct searing and lower-heat, indirect cooking in this recipe is to achieve a balance between a well-done outside and more rare inside with an evenly-heated roast throughout the steak.
You can easily adjust these methods: if you prefer a rare steak, then decrease the time spent for indirect grilling and vice versa.
Keep in mind that the narrow tip will usually be well-done and the butt-end will range from medium to rare.
Cover your tri-tip with aluminum foil and let it cool down for about 10 minutes before slicing it against the grain with a sharp knife.
Slicing against the grain will keep the tri-tip intact and tender.