Meg Cooks: Lemon Paprika Tri-Tip

For many people, Sunday is sleeping in, brunch and reading in a hammock while the kids play in across freshly mowed grass.

It’s freaking idyllic.

My Sundays don’t look like that.

They look like waking up twenty minutes before we are supposed to be to church. They look like a five year old that is upset her pink dress is dirty and a two year old that smears chocolate across the top of her head during our walk to church. They look like too long naps and house head and I should have done better and next week I will.

So, I decided to change the seventh day of my week. To make it a day of inspiration even if it isn’t likely to be a day of rest. I decided to cook.

Riley bought me Ad Hoc a few months ago. By Thomas Keller, it’s a beautifully composed homage to the art of the family meal. One of those rare cookbooks that inspires AND encourages. Also? It looks pretty damn great on my coffee table. On Sunday, it finally made the transition from aesthetic piece to kitchen workhorse.

And it was delightful.

Sure, we were still late to church, the pink dress was definitely dirty and Viola for sure schmeared herself with something before we even made it out the door. But then when we got home, I cooked recipes from Ad Hoc while the kids played across a freshly mowed lawn. And it was all pretty darn idyllic.

The menu last night was lime zest creamed corn, cabbage with roasted pistachios and a Santa Maria Tri-Tip. I’ll share the recipes for the sides later. But for now, let’s get to the main course.

Cooks Note: I suggest listening to Etta James while attempting any kind of serious cooking. I changed a few of the measurements and ingredients to fit the contents of our pantry. To see Keller’s version buy his cookbook here.


Santa Maria Tri-Tip

One 2 lb tri tip roast, around  inches at its thickest point

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika

Kosher salt

Canola oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 rosemary sprig

1 garlic clove, smashed, skin left on

5 very thin lemon slices, seeds removed


Prepare the meat one night ahead. Trim away all the silverskin. (Silverskin is the pearly membrane found on many cuts of meat.) In a small bowl, combine the pepper and hungarian paprika and then rub mixture all over meat. Wrap the tri-tip tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Thirty minutes before cooking, remove the meat from the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Set a roasting rack in a roasting pan. (Quick trick! I don’t have a roasting rack so I just sliced an onion into four thick cuts and laid them out to make a square in the roasting pan. Set the meat on top. Voila! Homemade roasting rack that tastes delicious after all the cooking is done.)

Pat the meat dry with paper towels and then generously sprinkle all sides with salt.

Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Once the oil looks shimmery, add the meat. Let the meat sear without moving it for about a minute and a half. Once the bottom of the roast has browned, turn it over. Add the butter, rosemary, garlic and lemon slices and brown the second side of the meat another two minutes or so. While it is browning, tilt the pan from time to time and baste the top of the meat with the butter mixture. Then transfer the meat to the rack and arrange the lemon slices, rosemary sprig, and garlic clove on top.

Put the roasting pan in the oven and roast for 30 to 50 minutes depending on the thickness of the roast. Pull the roast out of the oven once the temperature in the center of the meat is about 135 degrees. Let the meat rest on the rack in a warm spot of the kitchen (like the back of the stove) for around 30 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute. The roast will be medium rare once you’re ready to cut into it.

Cut the roast into thin slices. Make sure to adjust the angle of your knife so that you cut against the grain of the meat. Put on a platter, garnish with the lemon, garlic and rosemary. Enjoy.