Steak houses are popular destinations for special-occasion meals but often cost more than we want to spend for an evening out. And, during the recent Covid restrictions, we are staying home and cooking more. If you crave a steak house dinner, the following meal for 4 to 6 people, which includes two sides and a wedge of lettuce salad with blue cheese dressing, can be prepared for around $50.
Instead of using an expensive cut of beef, I use a tri-tip roast. It’s called the tri tip because it comes from the point where the sirloin, sirloin tip, and loin cuts intersect.
This cut was accidentally discovered in the late 1950s in a Safeway store in Santa Maria, California, when a summer replacement butcher, named Larry Viegas, was cutting meat for hamburger and stew meat. On that particular day the store had an over-abundance of lower-priced meat, so the market manager grabbed a triangular chunk that Viegas planned to grind into hamburger and put it on the rotisserie to cook for sampling. When the odd-shaped chunk came off the spit, the Safeway meat crew discovered a tender, flavorful, mouthwatering new cut. The tri tip became a California favorite, and its popularity has spread throughout the country.
Grilled Tri-Tip Roast
Serves 4 to 6
Be sure to marinate the roast for 24 hours. This leaves the roast very tender and tasty. The tri tip should never be grilled more than medium rare and should always be cut against the grain into thin slices.
For the marinade:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire® sauce
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons large grind black pepper
2 pounds tri-tip roast
In a large, glass baking dish, combine olive oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire® sauce, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper. Pierce tri-tip roast several times with a fork to allow the marinade to penetrate into the interior of the roast.
Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally and turning to coat all sides.
Grill over hot coals for 10 minutes per side, turning, and basting frequently with the marinade. Remove meat from the grill, place on a platter, and let sit 5 to10 minutes before carving.
Slice on the diagonal against the grain into thin slices and serve.
Wedge of Iceberg Lettuce with Blue Cheese Dressing
This is one of my husband’s favorites.
For the dressing:
Makes about 1 ½ cups
1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, combine blue cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the salad:
1 head iceberg lettuce, washed and drained
6 strips bacon, fried until crisp and crumbled
2 tomatoes, corded, seeded, and diced
3 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced
Using a sharp knife, cut head of lettuce in half. Cut each half into 3 wedges. Place each wedge on a salad plate, top with 2 tablespoons blue cheese dressing, or to taste, and garnish with bacon bits, diced tomatoes, and green onions Serve immediately.
My husband won’t eat a steak without sautéed mushrooms on the side.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced shallots
5 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup green onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire® sauce
In a medium heavy skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and shallots and sauté until shallots are tender, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add mushrooms and sauté until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add green onions and Worcestershire® sauce and continue cooking until green onions are tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
We love ordering creamed spinach when we eat at steak houses. It surprised me that developing a good creamed spinach recipe was more difficult than I anticipated. It has taken me several tries to perfect this one.
32-ounces fresh spinach, tough stems removed and washed
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
¼ cup flour
2 cups whole milk
Sea salt to taste
Ground white pepper to taste
In a large, deep, heavy skillet, place spinach and 1 teaspoon salt over medium heat. Using tongs, stir spinach and cook about 3 minutes, or until spinach is wilted.
Remove spinach from skillet, drain, and cool. Squeeze moisture from spinach until dry. Transfer to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, chop spinach coarsely. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté until shallots are tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth.
Add flour and continue whisking until the mixture lightens, about 1 minute. Add milk and whisk to blend. Continue cooking until sauce thickens.
Stir in spinach and cook until heated through. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Shopping for beef: When buying a tri-tip roast, be sure to purchase U.S.D.A. Choice. Beef is graded Prime, Choice or Select. Prime beef has more marbling—white flecks of fat within the meat muscle—and is, therefore, more flavorful. It is the most tender and juicy grade of beef, however, it is higher in fat content. It is also the most expensive. Choice beef is less expensive than Prime but still has good flavor and tenderness. Do not buy Select beef. It has the least marbling, is tough and lacks flavor.
Shopping for iceberg lettuce: Lettuce should be free of blemishes. Its leaves should be even green in color with little browning on the outside edges. Do not buy iceberg lettuce that lacks green color or is irregular in shape.
Storing iceberg lettuce: Do not wash lettuce until ready to use. Store whole heads in plastic bags. This helps them retain their natural moisture and stay crisp. Do not store lettuce with apples or pears, as these fruits emit ethylene gas that will turn lettuce brown.
Shopping for mushrooms: Mushrooms should have spongy, firm, and fleshy caps. Do not buy mushrooms if they have black spots or worms. Avoid mushrooms with a discolored, shriveled appearance. Wet or slimy mushrooms are passed their prime.
To clean mushrooms: Either brush them with a mushroom brush or rub off any unsightly flesh. Rinse under cold, running water. While some people peel mushrooms, this is not necessary.
Shopping for spinach: Spinach should be deep-green in color with crisp, perky leaves. Do not buy spinach if it has yellow or broken leaves. Shop with your nose. If you smell an unpleasant odor, pass. If you are buying bagged spinach, inspect the bag carefully. Spinach deteriorates quickly. Also, check the “Best if Used by Date” to be sure it hasn’t passed its freshness date.
Carol Ann Kates is the author of award-winning cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market. For more information visit www.carolannkates.com.