Friday nights at DWR, we get our steak on. On the grill, on an open fire, and probably some on our shirts too. Justin’s been grilling up tri-tip steaks for the final dinner at the ranch each week for a few years now. The steaks are mouth-watering good and something we’re proud to serve and happy to enjoy each Friday night while we sit and visit with our guests in the cool mountain air.
Steak on Friday is no news at DWR, we’ve served multiple varieties of steak for years. But the Tri-
tip, I’m proud to say, are a little product from my roots. My mom’s family still operates the Bar-7 ranch, homesteaded by my ancestors near Meeker, Colorado. Meeker is one heck of a cowboy town. Everywhere you go, you see trucks, cowboy hats, and livestock of one kind or another. The White River that runs through Meeker breathes life into the valley and is home to some of the best fishing and hunting in the state, not to mention some of the best scenery. Meeker breeds rodeo stars and athletes; it’s a town of hard-working men, women, and children and, usually, you can count on them to play as hard as they work. Lucky for me, the town is chalk-full of folks I am related to.
As a kid, we’d load in the Astro van and head to Meeker a few times a year for weddings, funerals, family parties, and the annual branding of the calves on the Bar-7. Throughout my childhood, the small town was synonymous with livestock, beautiful scenery, family gatherings and really darn good food.
My stomach growls as I think about all the delicious things I associate with Meeker: there’s my Aunt Annie’s kitchen full of homemade breads, rolls, and her famous popcorn balls at Christmas. I can smell the warm, savory scent of eggs fried in bacon grease that enveloped my cold nose walking into my Aunt Gretta’s kitchen after helping Uncle Mark feed his cows early in the morning and I can taste the crispy edges of the egg white crunch in my mouth and the creamy yolk that followed. I can see our smiles and feel our relief as we sit down to a family picnic and the slow cooked ribs that filled our growling tummies after branding close to 200 calves each spring. There is Granny Pauline’s Pecan pie and date cake with lemon sauce, and Papa Jim’s pantry of home-canned Palisade peaches and snack size Baby-Ruth candy bars.
While many of those traditional meals and treats still welcome me back when I visit, a new tradition has emerged at family gatherings in Meeker: Ben Rogers, his grill, and his grill’s world famous tri-tip. Ben, a long time friend of the family, built a grill trailer that he can hitch to a pick up and haul to different sites. It’s a magnificent invention of welded metal. He can grill all sorts of meats on the awesome machine, and my family’s meat of choice is his melt-in-your-mouth, full of flavor tri-tip.
Watching Ben and his crew (usually a handful of my cousins) on his grill is just as entertaining and educational as the meat is delicious. The grill team dons cowboy hats and aprons as they carefully watch, turn, and slice the meat. Before the meat every touches the grill, Ben marinates it in a rub and gets the charcoals burning hot, The secret to the best flavor, Ben told me himself, is the oak he uses in the grill. I asked Ben how he came up with this whole meat-and-rolling-grill-rig and he told me about his college years at Cal Poly and the amazing flavor and character the outdoor meals had there. He said when he moved back to Colorado, he wanted to bring the feeling and flavor with him and add his own Colorado twist. Needless to say, he is on to something.
Shortly after my first sight of Ben, his grill, and his tri-tip, I came running home from my cousin’s wedding to tell Justin not about the bride’s dress or the pretty flowers, but about the gorgeous meat. My poor i-phone was near dead as I, fueled by one or two too many margaritas from the free margarita machine, went picture crazy with every angle of this grilling phenomenon. Justin agreed to try the tri-tips, did his own research on the best way to cook them, came up with a tasty rub, and now, every Friday, he throws those big, beautiful hunks of meat on our outdoor grill and share the tasty results with all our guests.