Someone wanted to make a German Chocolate Cake for her birthday. Third store, strike three. Not a single baking bar for this cake to be found. To avoid having the trip become an absolute failure I stocked up on some dried beans. Picked up more beans for my Badass Black Eyed Peas – 2021 and more chickpeas because I like chickpeas. Two pounds of dried beans cost less than three bucks. I love beans not just for their taste, variety and health benefits but also as an excellent way to stretch the food budget.
More Beans Less Beef
We don’t eat meat everyday. Whether you’re looking to improve your health, save money, save the planet, or save a few cows less meat is better. Not that dedicated non-meat eaters need another reason for their lifestyles here you go:
Four packing companies control 80% of the cattle industry. Another fine example of profits before people (and animals).
The duo compare the flat iron to a famously tender and expensive steak: the filet. “The flat iron is the second most tender muscle on the animal but it has so much more flavor, and is a fraction of the price,” Turley says. “The customers that come in for the first time…they think ‘I gotta get the most expensive thing, that’s going to be the best thing.’ You don’t have to…this is a better value and you’ll be super happy with it,” says Young.
There isn’t a home cook alive who doesn’t appreciate a good value at the grocery store. In fact I was at the store today and couldn’t help but notice shoppers routinely ignore the flat iron steaks and head straight to tenderloins. I had some already in the freezer but I picked up some more.
Note this cut is also known as Top Blade Steak.
Due to the strip of cartilage in Top Blade you’ll do better low and slow with moist heat. Flat Iron Steaks are cut to remove the cartilage and is the better cut for grilling. But none of this really matters in our house because these are two of my favorite cuts for pot roast, stew, stroganoff, etc. Tri-tip is another good choice for low and slow treatment as in my Tri-Tip Beef Stew.
This post is prelude to my Beef Stroganoff post which I’ll get around to writing one of these days. Promise.
In a small stockpot heat olive oil until hot. Salt and pepper the roast. Brown the beef on both sides over medium high heat.
Add the celery and onion. Reduce heat to medium and saute for several minutes.
Add garlic powder and thyme. Add enough broth to almost but not completely cover the roast. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer.
Simmer slowly for two hours.
After two hours, remove the roast to a cutting board and allow to cool.
Add the rest of the beef broth and tomatoes to the pot.
Add the potatoes and carrots. Simmer for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes add the squash , mushrooms and corn. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
When the roast is cooled, trim any excess fat, cube and add to the soup.
Adjust your seasonings. Add parsley.
My meals since Friday evening have been soup, cereal, soup, soup, toast/banana, soup, and soup. The jeans are getting a little loose. I cannot remember a weekend of such healthy eating ever. Yes, The Boss is still sick. Friday I made chicken soup. Last night I made Vegetarian Vegetable Soup. Today I decided upon Beef Vegetable for a change in pace.
A high quality beef vegetable soup is the end result of the right cut of beef and some high quality broth. This recipe is semi-organic because most of the ingredients were organic but some were not. The beef broth was hand selected store bought prepared organic broth. I used top blade which IMO makes a big difference due to the cut and marbling.
I remembered the mushrooms. Use vegetables you have on hand. I also decided to leave out peas because peas are not one of my favorite vegetables. The corn adds a touch of sweetness. Note the roast is braised whole for several hours, cooled, cubed and returned to the soup. The beef stays tender this way. You won’t end up with tiny hockey pucks.
A salad on the side and crusty bread would make this a meal.
So would a three pound top blade roast. But with that much beef you might as well make Pot Roast.
The gang was coming over for dinner. I wanted something simple and tasty. The weather was perfect. I had just purchased a full tank of propane. It was time to grill again. For decades our go to marinade has been the Iki Marinade.
My next thought was chicken. But the local store was selling tri tip steaks for $4 a pound. So I bought a package. If you’re familiar with this particular cut you know you typically get irregular pieces of steak in any given package. Butchers are smart. They will flip a piece of meat so that the side facing the buyer looks awesome. You buy, take the package home, and open only to discover one of the pieces is really, really small and someone will get the pipsqueak. When you see a picture of this steak you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
Irregular shaped steaks are a pain in the ass to cook. So I cut each steak in half and pounded the hell out of them until they were about a half inch thick. The flattening helps tenderize the meat and grill more evenly than when left whole.
My memories of beef stew growing up was that it came out of a can and tasted pretty bad. My mother was not a very good cook. She was however very good at opening cans. Consequently, I never really cared much for beef stew.
This weekend we had friends over for dinner. At first, we were thinking pizza. No, we just did that a couple of weeks ago with this crew. So I decided to cook but wanted to keep it simple. I also wanted to clean out the freezer a bit since winter is coming and there might be some stuff in there that needs to get cooked. I went rummaging. I found tri-tip steaks.
“Am I going to grill these things before next summer?”
Probably not. Stew. Problem solved.
This cut makes a wonderful stew. The packages of stew meat you find in the store consist of cubes from different cuts. Some are very lean which makes for a healthier dish, but less flavor. A good tri-tip is well marbled and the extra fat makes this stew quite tasty. You’ll note no potatoes in this stew. I served the stew over plain rice. Add potatoes if you wish. We had homemade cornbread and salad on the side. A crusty bread works too. Readers with a keen eye will notice this recipe is similar to Mike’s Pot Roast. You caught me.
As much as I love making this stew I have a confession to make. I’ve been making beef stew with top blade steak. I’m not going to change the name of this stew. But I should. Good tri-tip has been hard to find at the stores but one store always seems to have top blade steaks in their meat case. Well marbled too.
If you decide to use top blade keep the steaks whole and brown on both sides. The rest of the instructions are the same. Prior to serving pull the steaks apart with two forks into bite sized chunks. This particular cut will make the most tender beef stew you ever had.
A lot better than canned too.
Tri-Tip Beef Stew
1.5 to 2 lbs boneless tri-tip roast, well marbled, cut into one inch cubes
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T butter (optional)
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, small dice
1 carrot, peeled, small dice
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 lb white mushrooms, rinsed and quartered
1/2 lb frozen organic green peas
1/2 C Sweet Marsala wine
BIG Pinch dried thyme
2-3 T tomato paste with basil
1 C low sodium beef broth
Salt and pepper
In a cast iron enamel covered pot heat 2 T of oil on medium high heat. Brown beef cubes in pot, several minutes on each side. You might need to do this in batches to allow a good browning of the meat.
When beef is browned add the onions, small dice carrot, and celery to the pot and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms and a pinch of thyme, and saute for another minute. Add the Marsala wine and continue to saute until the alcohol evaporates. Add tomato paste, beef broth and mix thoroughly.
Cover and adjust the heat down to a low simmer.
Cook for 2 hours, or longer.
Approximately 45 minutes before serving add 1 T butter (optional) and the remaining carrot chunks. Reduce heat back to low.
Around 10 minutes before serving, add 1/2 pound frozen organic green peas.
For Father’s Day I had to fire up the grill but I didn’t want to repeat the Iki Marinade which we use more than frequently. I got online and started searching “Lime Marinade”. Use this search term if you want to get instantly overwhelmed by the number and variety of lime juice based marinades. So I gave up and made my own. I’m sure if you search far and wide enough I’ve probably “stolen” most, if not all, of the ingredient list from some other food blogger trying to make a living stealing recipes from other food websites, changing one ingredient, and calling it an original. So if you feel this marinade is your property I apologize up front. Any resemblance to your recipe is a pure coincidence.
I marinated some petite sirloins and boneless chicken thighs. I think this marinade works better with chicken.
The propane tank ran dry before I finished cooking the meats.
If you have a propane gas grill, keep a stove top grill or griddle around. You can always finish the grilling indoors which is what I had to do. Try fresh cilantro. I used dry because I didn’t have any fresh on hand. If you like your marinade a little sweeter, add another tablespoon of brown sugar.
Confused by beef? Don’t feel bad. I get confused constantly in the meat aisle. For example, I came across a Top Blade Roast this past week and immediately got confused. Top Blade Roast? Not a clue what it was. But the roast was on sale so I bought it. Now what do I do with it? After some determined internet research I learned Top Blade is Chuck.
During the course of my research I stumbled upon a great website run by a guy named Meathead.
The good news is the tri tip steak I made a while ago was deemed very good.
The bad news is I didn’t get to have any. The steaks were smaller than I thought so I didn’t get a piece. Same as when I was growing up, Dad would serve dinner family style and let everyone else pick their protein first. Dad got the pieces everyone else didn’t want. The last time I grilled tri tip steaks I got chicken.
I had to buy more. This time I bought the entire roast and carved it into steaks myself. At roughly a pound and a half I saved $1.50.
The triangle pieces are small and the first cut had a pretty thick cap of fat making the “steak” even smaller. I now understand why butchers turned this muscle into stew meat.
Tonight I am marinating the steaks in a lemon soy bath. We’ll see how they turn out.
Update 6:00 PM
The steaks turned out great. I froze the strip steak like pieces and grilled the smaller chunks. I managed to cook the meat until it was medium and it wasn’t tough or chewy. Don’t cook tri tip past medium or you will end up with chewy odd shaped hockey pucks. The marinade turned out decent for a throw together bath.
The Tri-Tip roast/steak is a 1.5 to 2.5 pound triangular-shaped cut from the beef sirloin…
For years, the Tri Tip found itself as part of the bone-in sirloin steak, hanging off the end as an odd shaped strip that usually got cut off and made into kabob meat or cube steaks. With a mere 4-5 LBS or so per animal, nobody really missed it.
As a kid growing up, steak was a rare treat. Dad would pick up Top Sirloin from the local King’s Market, pop them under the broiler, and serve with baked potatoes and a vegetable. For health reasons I don’t eat as much steak as I did when I was younger. But every now and then I enjoy a nice steak. My first experience with a Tri Tip was in a local restaurant and I felt this particular cut possessed extremely good beefy flavor. At the store I found some Tri Tip steaks, grass-fed and drug free. Tonight, we’ll be trying this cut marinated and grilled.