The Best Tri-Tip You’ve Ever Tasted

I haven’t blogged in some time. I am going to get back into the swing of things by departing from my normal jazz-centric writing. One of my other creative outlets is cooking! I am going to share with you my recipe for Tri-Tip. This is the way my family loves it…

In my opinion, this lean cut of beef really benefits from the “low and slow” method of sous vide cooking. It turns what can be a dry hunk of flesh into something every bit as tender, juicy, and tasty as prime rib. In fact, I call it “the poor man’s prime rib!” If you haven’t yet delved into sous vide cooking, there’s a great introduction to it here. You can pretty easily get the needed equipment on Amazon for under $100.


1 or 2 Tri-Tip Steaks (Costco usually sells packages of two)
Sea Salt (½ teaspoon per pound of meat)
Cracked Black Pepper

Board Sauce (enough for 2 Tri-Tip steaks):
¾ cup avocado oil (or another high smoke point oil)
10 large fresh sage leaves
4 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, stripped from the stems
2 medium clove of garlic
1 fresh red jalapeño
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Generously season with sea salt and cracked black pepper. My rule of thumb is a half teaspoon of sea salt per pound of meat.

Pre-heat water bath to 130°F.

Vacuum seal the steak or seal it in a heavy duty Ziploc freezer bag using the water displacement method.

Place bagged steak in water bath and cook for 6 hours.

Make the board sauce: Strip the thyme leaves from the stems. Chop the sage, thyme, garlic (I use a garlic press), jalapeño, and black pepper, and put it in a bowl. Drizzle the oil on the pile and let it sit while you cook so the oil can draw out some of the flavor.

After 6 hours, remove steak and pat dry with paper towels.

Brush both sides of the steak with some of the board sauce. I try to make sure there is a good portion of herbs on the meat. The flavor of the herbs will amplify during searing. Keep the rest of the sauce for your cutting board.

Fire up your grill. Get it as hot as you possibly can. I throw on wood pellets or chips to generate some quick smoke just prior to searing the steaks.

Sear each side for about two minutes. Rotate and move as necessary to control flare ups. You want nice dark brown markings on the meat (not black!).

When the steaks are almost ready, pour some of the board sauce onto the cutting board. A board with routed channels is best to hold it in.

Carve the tri tip in thin slices against the grain. Spoon remaining board sauce over the tri tip. Work some of the sauce between each piece. Serve immediately!

What is Jazz Music?

Those new to jazz often ask, “What is jazz music?” Since its inception, the definition of jazz has been argued amongst those who create it and those who listen to it. The disagreements continue to this day. Some argue that it’s a tradition or an art form. Some say that it cannot be defined, but can be recognized. Finally, there are those who assert that it is whatever they say it is. My point is: there are going to be those who disagree with my answer to the question.

Jazz began in America and, in my opinion, represents the American spirit. It is planned spontaneity. In other words, as the performers play a written song, there are opportunities within the music to be spontaneously creative. The musicians create new melodies “on the fly” over a pre-determined chord progression using their knowledge of rhythm and harmony, as well as their intuition and responses to the other musician’s performances. Improvisation is what defines jazz, and it is a part of American life – in work, play, and in everyday conversation. I do not know of a better picture of democracy than a jazz band. Within the group is individual freedom, but a duty to the whole. That is, the musicians have the opportunity to express themselves; however, they cooperate with each other within the structure and framework of the song.

Jazz MusicianWhat does it mean to improvise? To improvise is simply to create or do something new, unplanned, in response to what is occurring. Jazz musicians do this each time they play a song. A song is never performed exactly the same way, even if it’s performed by the same people. It becomes a musical conversation between the individual members of the group without a pre-planned conclusion. This is exactly what you do when you communicate with others. You are improvising. What you say depends upon what the other person says, who responds to what you are saying, and so forth. In jazz, this is done with instruments, and it really is a kind of musical dialogue.

Some say that jazz is a language. We use language to express ideas. Nearly everything in life can be communicated through languages like French, Spanish, or English. However, these formal languages are limited in the way they can express emotion. Music, however, communicates feelings to every human being, regardless of race or culture. This is why every culture has its music. This is also why popular music is such a huge industry, and why most people would say that they are far more moved by music than spoken words.

In jazz, the musicians express the temporal emotions during their performance. Improvisation makes jazz different from most other forms of music, which are pre-composed and then performed as the writer intended. Most of the music heard during a jazz solo is composed on the spot by the musicians, and played according to the way they feel at the time. This kind of spontaneity means the listener has to be attentive to the continually changing aspects of the song’s interpretation. In this way, classical music is similar to reading a book, while jazz is more like a conversation that evolves over time.

Jazz is not simple, which is why it does not have the easy appeal of pop and rock. It is complex, and it may take a number of listenings to appreciate the various complexities in a jazz performance. That’s not bad! You generally get out of things what you put into them. The more effort you put into seeking answers to the questions, “Where is the conversation going?”, “How and why does this performance move me emotionally?”, and even, “What is jazz music?” the more you will get out of your listening.

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