In our detailed article, learn how to cut a tri-tip steak the right way for the best and fulfilling result.
When it comes to grilling meat, many things come into play. The type of meat to be grilled, the method of grilling, the kind of equipment, the sauce, the spread, temperature for cooking, and maybe even the wine. But the most important part is how to cut it. Cutting it the wrong way might result in a tough meat steak. And no one likes to have their meat feel like gum.
One of the trickiest pieces to cut is tri-tip because of the flow of its meat grain. But do not be alarmed. In this article, we will explain how to cut tri-tip roast, with detailed instructions.
What is a tri-tip
Every beef piece has its name. It is either derived from where it is cut or the shape it takes. The tri-tip gets its name from how it looks. It is the part that's cut from the bottom of the sirloin, and the sirloin is at the lower back area of a cow.
Physically, the meat piece looks triangular with three pointy edges and a lot of grain lines running on opposite sides of the meat. The direction of the meat's grain lines is what makes it a bit complicated to cut. Also, it can be eaten with different delicacies, used as beef for burgers, or independently during a stakeout dinner. But what is the deal with cutting it properly anyway?
The importance of cutting it in a certain way
There is a lot of 'talk' on how to cut the tri-tip into steaks and getting it right. Why does it matter? Let's dive a little into meat grain first to understand the gist better.
Meat grains are lines (vertical or horizontal) on a piece of meat that indicates how the meat tissues are layered. It is the direction of the muscle fibers of the meat cut. And it has a great effect on the tenderness or toughness of the meat, according to a research conducted in 2008.
There are two ways to cut the meat piece – with or against the grain lines. When the meat is cut with the grain, it means the lines are followed during slicing. The result of the cut meat would be a tough, rubber, elastic slice of beef that is difficult to chew or bite through. The juice from the cooking would also easily escape from meat, leaving your piece dry.
However, cutting against the grain means that you slice each piece in the opposite direction of the natural meat grain lines. This way, the cut piece would be tender and juicy because of the pore holes that trap the juice during cooking.
So, in essence, the way tri-tip is cut determines how tender the resultant steak is.
Which one should I cut it: raw or cooked
Cutting tri-tip steak, whether or not it is raw or cooked, is acceptable. However, we recommend slicing only after the roast has passed the heat of a good smoker. One, the meat is simply easier to cut through when it is cooked than raw. Also, the integrity of the meat is maintained after it has been cooked. Waiting till after your meat has been grilled gives your steak a more professional look – like you are a chef on TV. Not to mention the fact that you would have to season each piece separately if it has been pre-sliced.
Another reason it is better to cut after cooking is because the grain is much easier to trace along after the meat is back from the heat. Remember that the cutting affects the texture of the meat during chewing (tender or tough). But we advise that you rest your meat before slicing to have a juicer and tender meat piece.
What do we mean by resting? This means that the meat has been laid down or wrapped for a few minutes after cooking. This way, the juice would have been absorbed properly and will not immediately dry out.
What you'll need
Before attempting to cut tri-tip, you need to have the following tools at hand and close by to achieve your tender meat steak pieces. The tools are:
A sharp meat-cutting knife: the knife you choose to use can make or mar the shape and integrity of the meat. Choose a sharp knife that would help keep the integrity of your roast.
A board to cut the meat: preferably, a board with handles to reduce movement during slicing. It's all to enhance convenience.
Towel to hold the board in place: a wet towel should be placed under the board, again, to reduce the 'moving around' of the board during cutting.
A serving platter: of course, you need a plate or a dish to serve your meat steaks onto.
How to cut tri-tip: instruction
We have finally gotten to the main course of the guide – how to cut the tri-tip into steaks. If you have obtained all your tools (the ones mentioned above) set, then we can proceed. To reach a perfectly cut tri-tip, there are three steps to follow, so get ready, and let's go.
Step One – Trimming
This is the first step. Before attempting to cut any part of the meat, check for a fat cap. And if you don't know how to trim tri-tip, it is very easy. Using your knife, carefully tear out the top fat layer from off the meat.
Step Two – Divide
The next step is to divide. First, place the meat on the board you have gotten. Slice the roast from the top - at the middle edge down to the base (the middle of the two other edges). Now there will be two pieces – one long half, and a shorter half. When you have this, you can proceed to the next step.
Step Three – Slicing
Start with a longer half. Trace out the grain lines and create imaginary lines across the grain (perpendicular to the grain). Begin from the uncut end and slice across the grain, following the imaginary dot lines you have created. Cut in thin slices until the whole half is complete. For the second half, do the same thing. However, note that your slices would face a different direction if you are cutting across the grain.
We believe that you have a clear theoretical idea of how to cut tri-tip across the grain and the importance of cutting it in that way. Now, can go ahead to try it on your own. Just make sure that you have your tools at hand and you have cooked your meat until tender. You can dish your steak alone with a glass of wine or have it shared with your friends and family with other delicacies. Just make sure you enjoy the process. Happy Grilling!