Argentineans eat more beef per capita than any other country’s citizens, and when they cook it outdoors, they always do it over wood to infuse the meat with deep, smoky flavor. Here, after a quick marinade, we grill the thick tri-tip cut over direct heat so that it forms a nice brown crust on the outside while the inside stays pink and juicy.
What to buy: For authentic flavor, look for grass-fed beef, the traditional way of raising cattle in Argentina.
Special equipment: Pieces of wood char known as lump charcoal can be found at most grocery and hardware stores.
A chimney starter makes lighting charcoal a snap. Place a wad of newspaper in the bottom, fill the top with charcoal, and light the newspaper. Using a chimney starter means that there is no need for lighter fluid, which would ruin the flavor that comes from the wood. Charcoal chimney starters can be found at hardware stores or online.
You’ll need an instant-read thermometer to know when the tri-tip has reached a perfect medium rare.
Place the measured oil, garlic, rosemary, and lemon juice in a small, nonreactive bowl and stir to combine; set aside.
Pat the tri-tip dry with paper towels. Rub a generous amount of salt and pepper all over the tri-tip, followed by the reserved marinade. Transfer the tri-tip to a baking sheet and let sit at room temperature while you prepare the grill.
Fill a medium-sized chimney starter with lump charcoal (about 5 to 6 quarts). Crumple 2 to 3 pages of newspaper and place in the bottom of the chimney starter. Set the starter on the charcoal grate of the grill and light the newspaper. After about 10 minutes the coals should be red, with flames coming out of the top of the chimney starter. (If the charcoal doesn’t light, you may have put too much newspaper under the starter—the flames need air to spread—so repeat lighting the newspaper.) Place the lit charcoal on one side of the grill, forming a mound. Place the cooking grate over the charcoal and let the grill preheat for about 15 minutes (the charcoal should have turned white and ashy by this point).
Rub the grill grate with a towel dipped in olive oil. Place the tri-tip on the grill over the coals, cover the grill, and cook for 5 minutes. Rotate the tri-tip 90 degrees (keeping the meat over the coals), cover, and grill until the underside is deep brown and grill marks have appeared, about 5 to 6 minutes more.
Flip the tri-tip and continue grilling over the coals, rotating 90 degrees once during the cooking time, until the meat is deep brown, grill marks have appeared, and the tri-tip has reached an internal temperature of 125°F (for medium rare) on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 to 12 minutes total.
Transfer the meat to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice against the grain and serve with chimichurri.
Beverage pairing:Monteviejo Festivo Malbec, Argentina. The combination of grilled tri-tip and chimichurri has a lot going on—smoky beef and peppery, daring sauce. This wine, with strong blackberry fruits and spicy notes, stands up nicely to the intense flavors of the dish.