Espresso rubbed Tri-tip braise

Braised beef, more commonly known as pot roast, is such a familiar winter dish.  Everyone loves the smell, the anticipation, and the though of having a warm and hearty meal to look forward to.  Pot roast can, of course, turn out somewhat flavorless and tough.  We’ve all had it.  All the anticipation, the great aroma, the promise of a wonderful meal, just to find out that it lacks flavor, and is tough.  How disappointing.  Tough and flavorless pot roast.  No good.

So instead of going through the steps of a classic pot roast, let me turn you on to something guaranteed not to fail in the flavor department.  And as far as toughness goes, if you follow my steps, it won’t fail there either.  This is similar to pot roast in that it’s a braised beef recipe, and different in that the flavors are much bolder and a little off the beaten path.  And, this might be easier.

First, the choice of meat is always important.  Using a very lean rump roast or chuck roast will always end in a tough product.  They simply lack the fat to ever become naturally tender.  Sirloin tri-tip however, is perfect.  What a versatile cut!  It grills wonderfully, roasts well, and takes a braise extremely well.  It’s full of flavor, has just enough marbling to be tender, and is not expensive.  So, we’ll use it.  I employ a host of other ingredients, including dried peppers, classic coke, onions, garlic, and espresso powder.  Balancing espresso powder with chilis and beef is a match made in heaven.  Talk about big flavor.  Big aroma.  This is a great recipe.  It takes a little while to make, but so what?  If you’re going to braise beef, it’s going take a little while anyway.  

FYI, this recipe is also VERY crock-pot friendly, for those of you who looking for new and interesting crock pot recipes.  And, feel free to also add a little chocolate powder if you feel so inclined.  It’s a great touch and compliment.

Espresso Rubbed Sirloin Tri-tip Braise

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time:  4 1/2 hrs
Yield:  5 hearty portions


3lb sirloin tri-tip roast, trimmed of excess fat
2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut in half
3 heads garlic, cut in half
2 tsp whole corriander
2 tsp whole cumin
1 1/2 tbsp espresso powder, plus 3 tbsp espresso powder
3 each dried ancho chili peppers
3 each dried anaheim chili peppers
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp tomato paste
8 oz regular coke
prepared chicken stock
3 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
1 tbsp chili powder
vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp onion powder
5 each oxtails or beef short ribs
kosher salt


In a mixing bowl, season the tri-tip with a little vegetable oil, chili powder, 1 1/2 tbsp espresso powder, ground cumin, and the onion powder.  Season liberally with salt and sear on all sides in a heavy bottom saute pan.

Place the seared beef in a medium stock pot.  Mix the tomato paste with a little warm water and add to the pot.  Add all other ingredients.  Lightly season with salt.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 4 hours.

Remove the beef and keep warm and covered.  Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer.  Using a ladle, remove the fat from the top.  Reduce the liquid until slightly thick.  When the beef is cool enough, shred and return to the sauce.  Keep heat low, and reseason.

The beef is now ready.  I like to serve this with potatoes and hearty winter vegetables, like carrots and brussel sprouts.


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