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The Best and Easiest Grilling Recipe Ever - Santa Maria Tri-Tip

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Labor Day has come and gone, signaling the "end of summer". But seriously, we're in Los Angeles, so what the fuck does this arbitrary marker have anything to do with altering our almost flawless grilling weather year round? In fact, I would venture to say that it will not even be ideal outdoor entertaining weather for another month or so, and if you are anything like me, you are willing to fire up the grill, drink beer, and talk shit in LA pretty much any night of the year. Maybe you will even take a bong rip, but who am I to judge. As Angelenos, this scenario is our inalienable birthright, and one of the best things about our wonderful city.

Which brings me to the recipe at hand. In Santa Maria, California, there is a long tradition of grilling beef topblock over huge open pits of oak. So-called Santa Maria BBQ is certainly the most significant historical use of a grill west of the Mississippi. While not truly barbecue, which is technically a slow cooking method using indirect heat that produces smoke, a true Santa Maria pit is full of dried raw oak and features a grill that lowers and raises above the fire using a system of pullies. Using this system, the meat gets a slightly smoky flavor from the wood, but cooks in a substantially faster time than using indirect heat.

By reversing this process, you can reproduce the amazing flavors of true Santa Maria BBQ in your backyard on a much smaller scale, using a 2-3 lb. tri-tip in place of a 20 lb topblock. Looking to watch your urbane clique revert to their primal roots, forsaking knife, fork, and plate for fingers, bulged eyes, and wide smiles? Want to see your veggie and vegan friends split into groups of people either salivating because they want a taste, or are fully repulsed at such a carnivorous feast? Want to make something awesome, with $20, and at the last minute for a group of 4-5 people? This is your answer.

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Full step-by-step instructions with photos after the jump.