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A Home-Cooked Steak House Dinner

It is getting pretty pricey to go out for dinner these days, especially to a steak house, which is a popular destination for special-occasion meals. If you crave a steak house dinner, but don’t want to shell out the big bucks, 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 $60. That’s $10 to $15 per person—a lot cheaper than a steak house.

Instead of using an expensive cut of beef, try 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. The tri-tip by any other name is still a tri-tip. But in different parts of the country or in different markets, it might also be called a sirloin tri-tip, a California roast, a bottom sirloin butt roast, a Newport steak, a Santa Maria steak, or a triangle roast. The tri-tip roast can be cut into steaks, which are called tri-tip steaks.

The history of the tri-tip roast, like most things, is a bit murky. Legend has it that the tri-tip roast originated in the 1950s in a Safeway store in Santa Maria, California. Larry Viegas, a butcher at the store, claimed the store had an excess amount of hamburger, which is typically made from the part of the cow where the tri-tip is located. The store manager, Bob Schutz, not wanting to waste the excess triangular chunk of beef, seasoned it, put it on a rotisserie, and discovered this tender, flavorful marvel. Schutz handed out samples to his customers, who found it delicious. He began marketing this cut as the tri-tip, and it slowly became a California favorite.

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 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 coast for 10 minutes per side, turning, and basting frequently with the marinade.

Remove meat from the grill, place on a platter, and let sit for 5 to10 minutes before carving. Slice on the diagonal against the grain into thin slices and serve.

Tips on slicing a tri-tip roast: Using a carving knife, slice tri-tip roasts across the grain.

Tips on shopping for beef: When shopping, make your meat selection last. Shop with your eyes. Look for bright cherry red meat that does not have brownish blotches. Look for packages that are cold to the touch and tightly wrapped with no tears or punctures. Occasionally packages of meat may have a red liquid. This is not blood. Beef is about three fourths water. This liquid is natural moisture from the beef. Since prices of beef are rising, we don’t want to throw any meat away if it is still edible. Regarding dates on packages: Many stores mark packages with a “Sell-By” date. Beef steaks are good for 3 to 5 days passed the “Sell-By” date. The “Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product in the meat case. A “Use-By” date is the last date recommended for use while the product is at its peak. A “Best if Used By/Before” date means the product will be at its best flavor or quality before that date. You can tell if your steaks have passed their prime if they have a bad odor or feel slimy.

Wedge of Iceberg Lettuce with Blue Cheese Dressing Serves 6

This is one of my husband’s favorites.

For the dressing:

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup blue cheese, crumbled

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

¼ cup red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon 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.

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 or reusable 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.

Sautéed Mushrooms Serves 6

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.

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.

Creamed Spinach Serves 6

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

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 for 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 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

Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at and explore her website,

Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

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