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Tri-Tip Recipe à la Julia Child

In honor of Julia’s 100th birthday, here’s a tri-tip recipe inspired by her Steak au Poivre. It works well with tri-tip, as tri-tip’s lean and cooks well in a saute pan. Remember, the secret to tri-tip is cooking over medium-high heat for a short time to achieve a rare or medium steak. Cooking the steak medium well or well done will make it too dry. Serve the tri-tip with roasted potatoes and a nice green salad, or green beans with olive oil and dill. The modified recipe saves you about 200 calories and 27 grams of fat, and it cuts saturated fat down by a third. Note: You can also cook the tri-tip on the grill by searing first in a pan to start the sauce, then transferring to a grill for the rest of the time.


  • 2 lbs tri-tip
  • 2 tbsp of a mixture of several kinds of peppercorns, or white peppercorns
  • sea salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup beef broth, fat free and low sodium
  • 1/3 cup cognac
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh watercress or garden herbs

1. Crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or with the bottom of a bottle.

2. Blot the tri-tip dry with paper towels. Rub the crushed peppercorns into both sides of the meat. Cover and let stand for at least a half hour, or for as long as 2 to 3 hours.

3. Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees F. On your stove, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, thick-bottomed skillet. Sear the meat on each side for about 2 minutes. Transfer the meat to an oven-safe pan and finish cooking approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Be sure to check doneness with a meat thermometer: 125 degrees F, measured with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest point of the meat, is rare; 135 is medium-rare; and 140 is medium. Cooking tri-tip hotter than this produces dry, overdone steak. Remove to a hot platter, season with salt, and keep warm while completing the sauce.

4. While the steak is in the oven, pour the fat out of the skillet. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and minced shallots and cook slowly for a minute. Pour in the stock and boil down over high heat, all the while stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up the coagulated cooking juices.

5. Add the cognac to the skillet and boil for 1 to 2 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Remove from heat and swirl in the remaining tbsp olive oil. Garnish the steak platter with garden herbs, pour the sauce over the steak and serve.

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