A few years ago I got hooked on tri tip steaks and had a bountiful supply from my local Costco. It was quickly turning into my favorite steak when, without any warning, Costco stopped carrying the cut.
The butcher said Costco stopped carrying it because there wasn’t enough demand which absolutely blew my mind!
Since then I have found four excellent online suppliers of tri tip and between them the cut is almost always available. The four places are:
- Porter Road
- Snake River Farms
- Heritage Foods
- Farm Foods
Porter Road is a butcher shop based in Nashville, TN that you WANT to do business with.
Selling high end kick butt quality meat is only half of what they do. The other half is that they only source their meat from local family farmers who practice humane animal husbandry and raise their beef on pasture.
Porter Road does not support industrial agricultural factory farms where the steers stand knee deep in manure and are fed an unending stream of tax subsidized corn.
When you buy a tri tip from Porter Road you are buying a premium steak from a cow that was raised ethically by a small farmer from Tennessee or Kentucky.
- Grade: Upper Choice/Prime (see below)
- Breed: Angus (Black or Red)
- Ageing: Dry Aged for 14 days
- Link: Porter Road
Porter Road has their own meat processing plant in Kentucky. Since they are handling all aspects of production they do not hire an USDA Inspector to formally grade the meat as either Choice or Prime. However, Angus beef is extremely well marbled and will almost always grade out at either the high end of Choice or as Prime.
This is excellent beef that has been dry aged for 14 days.
Snake River Farms
Snake River Farms offers two grades of tri tip, American Wagyu and Choice
- Grade: Better than Prime
- Breed: American Wagyu
- Ageing: Wet Aged for 21 days
- Link: Snake River Farms Wagyu
American Wagyu is a cross between American Angus cattle and Japanese Wagyu cattle. This beef has the some of the incredible marbling as pure Wagyu with the robust beefy flavor of Angus. By raising this cross of a breed they are also able to produce a product that is similar to pure Wagyu but at a much lower cost.
American Wagyu beef always grades much higher than Prime and is a delicacy that everyone should try at least once. If you are unfamiliar with Snake River Farms then here is a nice video introduction.
- Grade: Choice
- Breed: English Cross
- Ageing: Wet Aged for 21 days
- Link: Snake River Farms Double R Choice
The folks at Snake River Farms have a “sister brand” called Double R Ranch. The products from Double R Ranch are from English Cross cattle and they typically grade out at Choice or better. These are products for folks that want high quality beef but don’t want to go all out for American Wagyu.
Heritage Foods is at the forefront of the nonindustrial meat movement. They focus on rare breeds that are raised humanely by small farmers. All animals are raised humanely, outdoors and on pasture.
The tri tip from Heritage Foods is pure Akaushi Wagyu. This breed was imported as a small herd (8 cows and 3 bulls) into Texas from Japan in 1994. Akaushi beef is among the most marbled in the world but is also one of the healthiest. Akaushi beef has high levels of oleic acid and conjugated linoleic acid , both of which are beneficial in lowering cholesterol.
This roast will cost you a little over $80 which works out to about $30 per pound. While that is a lot of money to fork over it is also one of the most affordable way to experience real Wagyu beef.
- Grade: Higher Than Prime
- Breed: Akaushi Wagyu
- Link: Heritage Foods
Farm Foods works with small farms and ranches and specializes is grass fed beef, pork and chicken. Farm Foods provides a list of the farms they work with along with a biography of the owners so you get to know exactly who you are buying from and how they raise their animals.
Beef that has been purely grass fed is typically leaner and healthier than beef that has been finished on corn in a feedlot. The breed of cattle is typically Angus but given how many farms they work with it is safe to assume that some other breeds are in there as well.
You will get free shipping on all orders over $10.
How to Grill
I figured you might enjoy a video or two on how to grill a tri tip.
The first video is from Chef Tom at All Things Barbecue. It shows how to cook this cut using a Reverse Sear technique.
The second video is from T-Roy cooks and shows the Santa Maria grilling style which is how tri tip is traditionally cooked in California.