Summer may be slow to creep into Santa Cruz County, but Memorial Day weekend officially marked the start of my favorite time of year: grilling season.
Everywhere across the country, people are pulling the covers off of their Webers, buying fresh bags of Kingsford charcoal and trying to remember where they stashed their grill brushes. Not only is there something primally satisfying about cooking outside over an open flame, but I have yet to meet a food that couldn’t be improved with a nice char.
My grilling menu is usually intentionally unambitious: a pile of vegetables tossed in olive oil and kosher salt, plus a tangy, herby salad, and one or two different kinds of proteins. I occasionally have the forethought to pull a marinade together in time to be effective, but more often than not I grill spontaneously, because the clouds suddenly let a few streaks of sunshine in and my evening is clear.
Luckily, a friend and fellow grilling queen turned me on to Staff of Life’s Bloody Mary-marinated skirt steak and tri-tip, both $15.99 per pound. Available at the butcher counter, it is everything I want in a marinade, plus it’s been soaking for several hours by the time I take it home—plenty of time for the steak to absorb all of that delicious flavor. Worchestire sauce and plenty of black pepper season the steak inside and out, while molasses balances with sweetness and helps the outside of the meat caramelize into a dark bark. Lemon juice tenderizes.
I checked with the butcher, who said that the marinade contains, “Everything you’d put in a bloody mary, minus the vodka.” It is shockingly good, and I’ve seen it elicit satisfied groans from dozens of dinner guests.
Skirt steak cooks up in an instant on the grill and is my first choice if I’m making tacos or short on time. I also find it’s the best thing to grab if I’m invited over to someone’s house for dinner—it’s impossible to mess up, regardless of the skill level of whomever is manning the grill. But a tri-tip done right is a beautiful thing, as long as you take into account its weird criss-crossing grain. Whatever you choose, the results are always delicious.