During a discussion with friends over the best foods we’ve ever had, one friend from Southern California said that there is nothing better than Cardiff Crack. We had no idea what he was talking about. He went on to tell us about a market in Cardiff, California that sells a vacuum tumbler, burgundy pepper marinated tri-tip that was unlike anything he had ever tasted. This set off an investigation of Cardiff Crack. We instantly discovered that he was not the only person with this opinion. Customers will sit in Southern California traffic to get their hands on Cardiff Crack.
What is Cardiff Crack?
Seaside Market, in Southern California, in the town of Cardiff, sells “Cardiff Crack Tri-tip.” The burgundy pepper marinated tri-tip is so popular that the market can sell over 600 pounds of Cardiff Crack over a busy weekend. Apparently, the key to their famous tri-tip is their secret marinade and vacuum tumbling the meat. The tri-tip is so flavorful and juicy that it is unforgettable if you ever get to try it. But what if you don’t live near Seaside Market? Well, we’re here to help.
What is a Vacuum Tumbler?
A vacuum tumbler marinator has multiple duties to get a perfectly marinated piece of meat. First, it vacuums out all of the air. When there is a vacuum created in the drum, this allows the air pockets in the meat to become more exposed. Then when the drum is tumbled the marinate can better coat and saturate the meat. This speeds up the marinating time and enhances the flavor.
A vacuum tumbler can be used on beef, pork, chicken, and fish. We have found that chicken that marinates on the tumbler for just 30 minutes tastes like it has been marinating for over 24 hours.
You might think that you don’t need to invest in yet another appliance, but we will tell you that it is worth the money and the space in your cabinet. The drum cleans up easily. Make sure to carefully remove the silicone seal and cap inside the lid.
STX International STX-1000-CE Chef’s Elite 15 Minute Meat & Vegetable Vacuum Marinator with Auto Shut Off and Free Meat Tenderizer
The easiest way to replicate Cardiff Crack: Burgundy Pepper Tri-Tip is to order the Crack Burgundy Pepper Tri-Tip and Steak Marinade seasoning packet. It is by far the best tri-tip marinade that we’ve ever discovered. It is so simple to make, just add the seasoning packet to ¾ – 1 cup of water and stir until combined. Add your tri-tip and let it bathe in the marinade overnight.
Crack Burgundy Pepper Tri-Tip and Steak Marinade. San Diego Style. Simply mix with 3/4 cup water and marinate overnight.
What is Tri-Tip?
Ask anyone from California if they have tried tri-tip, they’ll most likely say yes. Why California? Tri-Tip became popular in the 1950s in Santa Maria, California. A butcher had an excess of ground beef, so he took the triangular cut of unwanted meat and added some seasoning, and cooked it on a rotisserie grill for around an hour. The result was a delicious piece of meat and the rest is history.
If you ask a butcher for tri-tip and they look confused, ask for a triangle tip, triangle steak, or “Newport Steak.” The steak will not be uniform in thickness and it will have the shape of a triangle. It is important to use a meat tenderizer to get a more uniform thickness to cook evenly.
To Grill or Not Grill
We prefer to use the barbecue grill to cook a tri-tip. The highest heat is necessary to get a good sear and grill marks. Then moving the tri-tip to continue cooking using indirect heat is needed to continue cooking without burning the meat. If you don’t have a grill, see instructions below for using the stovetop and oven.
When is the Tri-Tip done cooking?
You DO NOT want to overcook your tri-tip. The meat will continue to cook while it is resting on the cutting board So it is super important to remove it from the heat at the right time. The key to knowing when to remove it from the heat is to have a meat thermometer. An instant read thermometer will give you an accurate reading of the temperature within seconds.
Tri-Tip is done, now what?
The tri-tip will need to rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute in the meat. Make sure that you have it resting on a cutting board with a juice board. The groove collects the juices and keeps them from spilling on your countertop.
Once the meat has rested for a bit and it is ready to slice, locate the direction of the grains of meat. You will want to slice against the grain at a 90 degree angle. If you slice in the same direction of the grain, the meat slices will not be as tender, and hey, tender meat is what we’re here for! We suggest slicing the tri-tip in thin slices. Each bite will be so tender and blow your mind.
Side Dish Options
- Mashed Potatoes: Smooth and butter mashed potatoes are a fantastic accompaniment.
- Grilled Asparagus: Toss asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper and cook on a grill pan while the tri-tip is resting.
- Roasted Potatoes: Chop potatoes into 2 inch cubes and add to a lined baking sheet. Add some olive oil and salt and pepper and roast at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Half way through cooking, toss the potatoes to evenly cook. After the potatoes are tender, you can turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes for a crisper potato.
- Cole Slaw: A simple coleslaw is a great side dish that compliments all flavors on your plate.
- Baked Beans: Add some warmed baked beans as a side to complete your meal.
If you are lucky enough to have some leftovers, here are some of the possibilities to add some pizzazz to your leftovers.
- Tri-Tip Sandwich: We love to save the leftovers for tri-tip sandwiches for the following day. We suggest adding mayonnaise to two slices of your favorite bread or roll and top with a few thin slices of tri-tip.
- Tri-Tip Salad: Top a bed of greens with slices of leftover tri-tip and add your favorite dressing.
- Tri-Tip tacos: Warm up a few slices of tri-tip in a frying pan for 1 minute per side. Add the warmed meat to a tortilla and top with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese.
- Cutting board with juice groove
- Parchment paper
- 1 Gallon sized Ziplock bag
- Meat Tenderizer/Mallet
- Meat Thermometer
- STX International STX-1000-CE Chef’s Elite 15 Minute Meat & Vegetable Vacuum Marinator
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Marinating Time: 12-24 hours
- Cook Time: 30-45 minutes
- Serves: 4-6 people
- 1 Package Crack Burgundy Pepper Tri-Tip and Steak Marinade
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tri-Tip – 2.5 – 4 lbs (fat trimmed and tenderized)
- The night before you plan to cook, start your preparation of tenderizing and marinating your tri-tip.
- Using a cutting board, trim excess fat from the tri-tip.
- Cover the tri-tip with a layer of parchment paper to prevent splatter. Using meat tenderizer, firmly pound meat for about 2 minutes per side, concentrating on thicker area of meat. The goal is to have a uniform thickness so that it cooks evenly.
- Place tenderized tri-tip in a gallon ziplock bag.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine 1 cup of water with 1 package of the Crack seasoning and mix well. Pour marinate mixture over the tri-tip and seal the ziplock bag.
- Place meat in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 12 hours.
- After the meat has marinated, place meat and marinate liquid in the barrel of the vacuum tumbler and follow instructions for sealing and removing the air. Set the vacuum tumbler timer for 1 hour and let it get to tumbling.
- While the tumbler is working hard and has about 15 minutes left on the timer, preheat your grill on high.
- When your grill is nice and hot, place marinated tri-tip on the grill and sear 5 – 7 minutes on each side.
- Reduce the temperature of the grill to about 350 degrees and place the tri-tip away from the direct flame.
- Cook over indirect heat for 10 – 15 minutes per side until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees, using an instant read thermometer.
- Remove meat from the grill and place on a cutting board with a juice groove and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the tri-tip across the grain to your desired thickness and enjoy!
No Vacuum Tumbler? – Remove as much air from the ziplock bag as possible and flip the ziplock bag every few hours to distribute the marinade.
- No Meat Tenderizer? – Use a heavy frying pan and pound that meat with even and level strokes.
- No Parchment Paper? – Cover meat with plastic wrap. Be careful to not hit the meat with the jagged side because it could tear the plastic wrap.
- No Grill? – What if you don’t have a grill? Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Next, grab a cast iron skillet or large ovenproof skillet. Heat your stove on high for 5 minutes. Turn on your stove fan because your pan will start to smoke. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil (we prefer avocado oil). Let the oil come to temperature (about 30 seconds). When the skillet is nice and hot, carefully add the meat, fat side down, to the pan and let it sear for 5 minutes. DO NOT move the meat until you are ready to flip it. After 5 minutes, carefully flip the tri-tip and let the other side sear for 5 minutes. When your tri-tip is done searing, pop the tri-tip, in the skillet, straight in the oven and continue cooking at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 140 degrees. We prefer the Taylor Precision Products Instant Read Digital Meat Thermometer. Don’t forget to let the meat rest for 10 minutes.
The addition of the vacuum tumbler to our kitchen appliances has exceeded our expectations. It perfectly marinades Cardiff Crack and so much more. The Crack Burgundy Pepper Tri-Tip and Steak Marinade seasoning packet gives the perfect amount of seasoning. We look forward to tri-tip night and are continuing to introduce our friends and family to this amazing tri-tip.