Grillin’ and Chillin’ on the 4th of July



As promised, here are the recipes for what I am cooking this 4th of July.

Tri-Tip tortas, Santa Maria Santa Barbara Style

I grew up eating tri-tip and there is nothing like a plate with some beans, avocado, fresh salsa, and tortillas. But the way I like making it is in a torta. Not the Spanish torta (an omelette) the Mexican version, which is a sandwich. In this case, a grilled roll with salsa, avocado and plenty of tri-tip.

Tri-tip is common on the west coast, especially in the Tri-Counties (Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Louis Obispo) but it is impossible to find here in NY. So how did I get these beauties? My mom flew them out when she came to visit last week. If you know anywhere to get tri-tip in NY, please post a comment.


One tri-tip roast

The rub/seasonings:

Kosher salt (not the finely ground stuff)

Fresh black pepper (ditto)


Achiote Paste (If you can find it. If so, ease up on the salt as there is plenty in the paste.)

Garlic (the more the merrier)

Mix the dry ingredients (not the garlic) and rub both sides of the roast. Wasn’t that easy?

Tri-tip has a layer of fat on one side. Take a sharp knife and puncture through the fat and into the meat but make sure not to go all the way through the roast. You’ll be inserting garlic into these cuts (see pic below, should have used the flash). I usually use a half of clove per cut but if you want to use whole cloves, go for it.


1) Sear the meaty side of the tri-tip first to trap the juices inside. A minute or two on a hot grill is good.


2) Most of the cooking will be with the fat side down, on the cool side of the grill*. If you put it over direct heat the fat will drip into the fire and your roast will burn.

3) Leave it on the fat side until cooked to your liking and then finish with another minute or two on the meat side. I prefer a medium rare center with medium well on the ends. This one took about and hour and fifteen minutes to cook. The fat looks burned but when you slice into the tri-tip it is moist and juicy.


Grilled Oysters

Sometimes referred to as bbq oysters but this is incorrect as bbq is slow cooking with indirect heat. Grilling is with direct heat.

First time I ever had these was at a 4th of July BBQ at Bolinas Beach, CA (another pic here). Been hooked ever since.


Oysters, loads of them. I like kumamotos best, but they are a bit hard to find on the east coast.

The sauce:

Sweet butter

White wine or beer (your choice, don’t use both)


Italian (also called flat leaf) parsley. It has more flavor than the other stuff.

Crystal hot sauce

Fresh squeezed lemon juice

1) Put the butter, wine, etc. in a sauce pan or small iron skillet and place on the grill to melt butter and combine the ingredients.

2) Place the oysters (make sure they are cleaned off) on the direct heat. They only need to be on for a few minutes. Some people say to wait until they pop open but I find them to be too dry at that point.

3) Shuck the oyster and move over to the cool side of the grill. Spoon in some sauce and let it cook for another 30 seconds to a minute. Delicioso!

*Whenever you grill you should have one half set up with coals (I use mesquite) and the other half coal free. This allows you to move things over to the “cold side” of the grill when things get too hot. It also allows for a more indirect (slow) cooking method.

I was going to make some ceviche too, but this should be enough for our small group (with sides like grilled corn, salad, etc.) and you already have the recipe for ceviche.

Last but not least, here are a few tunes in my play list for the afternoon (make sure to hit the “HQ” button. the sound is much better):

All the People: Cramp Your Style (Classic funk jam)

Black Sugar: Walkin’ (Rare Groove loveliness)

Blue Mitchell: Asso-Kam (From the Graffiti Blues LP)

dZihan and Kamien: After (On the jazz-funk deep house tip)

Artemis: Elysian Fields (Atmospheric d’n’b)

I’ll send you off with Peshay’s: 3rd Party, Fire and Theft (Massive…)


4 responses »

  1. You should be able to find tri-tip in the NYC area at Jefferson Market (450 Ave of the Americas) or Florence Meat Market (5 Jones St).

  2. Damn that meat looks good! I used to live right on the border but didn’t get a chance to try tri-tip…

    Anyhow, please accept my sincere, if belated, best wishes for Independence Day!

  3. It was good, Ganselmi! I can’t get enough of it. Probably has something to do with growing up eating the stuff and not being able to find out here. Up till now at least (I hope!).

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