Tri Tip with Coffee-Fennel Crust

April 18, 2011

Author Notes: Spring has arrived in the Napa Valley and we've begun firing up the grill for dinner. Tri Tip, like flank and hanger steaks which can be used as a substitute, is one of our favorites to use with a rub or marinade and it is both tender and flavorful. I like to cook the meat so it’s medium-rare because the rub becomes a crispy crust that soaks up the juices of the meat when it is sliced and the longer the meat cooks the less juice it will release. - lorinarlockLori Lyn Narlock

Food52 Review: Simple and tasty are two things which rank high on my list for grilled meat. This rub has a spicy kick (thanks to the peppercorns), an earthy touch (thanks to the coffee grounds), and lovely high notes (thanks to the fennel seeds). I had trouble finding tri-tip, so used skirt steak instead and it was absolutely delicious. Turn the grill on and by the time its ready, the meat will be, too. - thehappycookVictoria Ross

Serves: 4 to 6


  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons whole coffee beans or 1 tablespoon finely ground coffee
  • 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds tri tip steak (sometimes called roast)
  • Kosher salt
In This Recipe


  1. Toast the fennel seeds in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Transfer the fennel seeds to a spice grinder or mortar. Add the coffee, peppercorns, and salt. Grind to a medium-fine mixture. Transfer to a small bowl and add the olive oil, mustard and garlic. Rub over the steak to coat completely. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high.
  4. Add the steak to the grill and cook until medium rare, about 6 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board to rest at least 5 minutes. Cut the steak into thin slices, arrange on a platter, and pour the juices over the steak. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

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