Last Chance for Grillin’

A culinary blog series featuring seasonal food and wine from the restaurant servant perspective. 

“86” the Hot Tea by: Roddy Browning

As we wind down from our Labor Day celebrations and head back to school, we tend to be in mourning thinking that the end of summer is upon us. But that’s not really the case (especially for those of us that live in Southern California). Whether it’s officially the summer season or not, you never need an excuse to fire up the “patio dragon.”

Summer BBQ Tri-Tip Recipe

This month’s seasonal menu spotlight: Tri-Tip with Coffee Crust.

Nope this is not a Starbucks flavor of the month. First off, choose your weapon of mass destruction AKA some sort of heat source not in the kitchen. Something outside. Now I can tell you all how I set up my grill or how if I use charcoal or wood fire, but no mater how good my method is, your way is better. Let’s save us both the time.

Once your grill is up to temp, place the tri-tip… oh wait, we forgot to prep it. Silly me.


  1. You will need at least a couple pounds of tri-tip; I like prime if you can find it. (FYI- It’s not cheap.)
  2. If you have a coffee grinder, grind about half of its capacity of the grinder for 13 seconds. (Don’t ask, just do it.) Gets it a little finer than normal brewing grind.
  3. I like to put my steaks on the counter for at least 30 minutes. Why? Because its better that way. But really if the steak is allowed to come up to more of a room temperature, it cooks a little faster and a little more even.
  4. SALT, very important. Mix together 2/3 coffee and 1/3 salt, I prefer kosher salt.
  5. Rub the coffee salt dry rub on both sides of the tri-tip. Let it take in the rub for about 20 minutes. You can rub it over night if you like. Careful with salt marinating over night can lead to pulling the moisture out and over salting.
  6. Now back to when the grill is nice and hot, always remember if you cook at high heat you need to turn frequent. This should give you a crust or “bark” (as we food nerds like to call it). This is why the salt is so important, it helps to form that crispy texture.
  7. Your meat, your temp. That’s that. If you like it rare or well done that’s up to you. I always pull mine a little before my desired temp as there is carryover on the cooking. Carryover? What’s that? Anytime you are cooking anything, once you pull it from heat it will continue to cook.
  8. Resting, (no- not you), your steaks. Pull them and let them sit for about 7 minute before cutting. You should always rest anything meat related. Keeps it juicy. If you cut it before it has proper resting time you’ll see more of the juices on your cutting board and counter than on your plate.
  9. Slicing tri-tip is as important as buying good stuff. If you slice it with the grain, you get to chew on your meat more than you should. You want to carve against the grain. 
  10. Serve with people you like and sides you dig. Super simple. Enjoy with something red!

Compliment with Wine

Now that you’ve decided to make epic coffee crusted tri-tip, let’s have something good to go with it. We chose the 2014 North Valley Vineyards Yamhill-Carlton out of Oregon Pinot Noir. Yes, beautiful Pinot. Perfect for the warm summer and yet has enough backbone to hold up the red meats. This wine in particular has had a very short shelf life here at the house. Why? Because it’s so damn good, that’s why. I’ve nicknamed my 150 bottle cellar here at home the “Batter’s Box”. I’m sure you get the point, nothing lasts too long around these parts.

The wine pours out of the bottle with that recognizable sound of wine poured in a glass. As it splashes around in the glass you start to smell red fruits like currants, violets, touch of ripe cherry, leafy note, kiss of oak, and cherry cola. How does it taste? Well, the wife looks in my eyes as we are tasting it and says……….. “I need to take my contacts out.” Not what I was expecting, but the wine is excellent! Full cherry and spices. Not a super heavy weight wine but plenty of gusto. Acid is soft as are the tannins. It has a good balance of alcohol and fruit. Good lengthy finish. Again, really good. There’s a subtle smoky note that is excellent with the coffee crust. You can find this baby for $50. Very drinkable now or you could cellar it if you like to torture yourself. Enjoy! 

About the Author:

Roddy Browning is the chief architect and owner of two innovative restaurants in Oceanside and Vista called, Flying Pig Pub and Kitchen. Browning started his restaurant career in a small spot called Burger Boy in Cedar Crest, New Mexico. Following a move to Santa Fe, New Mexico, he started working as a prep cook and a busboy at local eatery named Julian’s. That was the start of his kitchen experience. He developed an appreciation for cooking and has been hooked ever since. When he moved to Tucson, Arizona, he worked the front of the house and quickly fell in love with wine. He worked under a few very talented Sommeliers throughout his career. He has been a certified Sommelier for over 10 years and has over 20 years of experience combined with his wine studies.

Published: September 21, 2017

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