The Kentucky Derby has been called the most exciting two minutes of sports, but the pre- and post-party lasts much longer.
Anything with bourbon — from mint juleps to bourbon balls — is popular fare.
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Beef tenderloin also is a Kentucky Derby day favorite. This recipe pairs beef with a bourbon marinade. And with beef prices still on the high side, we skipped the tenderloin and opted for a less costly cut of meat that still returns great flavor when paired with a marinade. We used beef tri-tip, which is cut from the bottom part of the sirloin. It’s a tender cut and best grilled medium-rare and no more than medium.
The bourbon will add a slightly sweet taste to the beef. We used Woodford Reserve, which has hints of floral and caramel without a burn.
You can serve this beef as a main course or slice it thin and serve on crostini (little toasts) as an appetizer.
Preparation time: 15 minutes (plus marinating time). Total time: 1 hour. Servings: 8. You can grill the tri-tip whole or cut the roast into individual thick steaks.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup bourbon whiskey
1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tri-tip roast (2 to 2 1/4 pounds)
Oil for the grill grates
In a glass measuring cup, whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Puncture the beef all over with a fork and place in a sealable plastic bag. Pour about two-thirds of the marinade over the beef; reserve remaining marinade to use as a sauce. Seal bag, squeezing out the air. Massage the outside of the bag to work the marinade in. Refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.
About 30 minutes before grilling, remove the beef from the marinade (discard marinade) to a platter and set aside while the grill is heating.
Preheat the grill to medium-high. Oil the grates and heat another five minutes. Add the tri-tip and sear on all sides to get nice grill marks. Move to indirect heat (no heat source under the beef) and finish cooking to desired degree of doneness, about 35 minutes (depending on the size) for medium-rare or until an internal temperature reaches 125 degrees. Remove from the grill and let it rest. The temperature will continue to rise to about 130 degrees.
Heat the reserved marinade briefly, thinly slice the tri-tip against the grain and drizzle with the sauce.
Analysis based on about 5 ounces cooked tri-tip. 285 calories (44 percent from fat), 14 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 3 g carbohydrates, 34 g protein, 520 mg sodium, 107 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber.
Adapted from “The Complete Meat Cookbook” by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly (Houghton Mifflin, $35).