Santa Maria Tri Tip is a traditional style of cooking this wonderful cut of meat. There are many stories about how this cut was elevated from tough stew or ground meat, but one fact remains, Santa Maria Calif. is where it all started. The traditional way of cooking Santa Maria tri tip is the essence of simplicity. Seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic salt, direct cooked over red oak coals on a grill with a grate that can be raised and lower to adjust for the heat. Usually served with toasted French or garlic toast, pinquito beans, pico de gallo salsa, and a tossed salad.
Once you have had real Santa Maria Style Tri Tip, it is hard to beat so while variety is the spice of life for some, tradition sometimes knows best.This video explains how to do traditional Santa Maria Tri Tip..
In the video they are cooking over raise & lower grate, with red wood. You can use your Weber Kettle or gas grill and hickory to get the same effect.
Using a weber kettle, built a two zone fire, in mine I have a divider and on the hot side build a 3" high bed of briquettes. This is pretty hot, you might want to try 2" to start since it is easier to control, and the cook times will be closer to the 50 minutes used in the video. Of course wood chips in foil packet with a couple holes poke in it. Once the meat has the right char finish on the cold side of the grill. If your meat is cooking too fast then turn. Basically about 30-35 min over the hot side and finish on cold side.
Using a gas grill, if you don't have a smoke box use wood chips wrapped in foil. Med-Hi is about right on my grill, yours might be just High setting. Again searing each side about 15 minutes, then turn heat to low and finish, you will have to turn the meat a couple of times, so it cooks evenly. I have a old alum wok ring about 2.5" high I set a small grate on it and put the tri-tip on it. This rack is directly over the hot burners but elevated and gives me another setting besides "low", it seems to work perfect. The warming rack is too far away from the heat to use to finish.
Cut on the bias.....