There's nothing quite as good as tri-tip if you have a hankering for tender, delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, beef! If you don't agree with that statement then maybe beef is not your thing or you haven't had good tri-tip yet.
I can help you fix that second issue!
I just got a big box of meat from Porter Road, a company that has generously sponsored the newsletter version of this recipe and the tri-tip was so good, I just had to write about it.
Hey, some people get inspired and write songs.. I get inspired and write instructions for cooking outdoors. Of course, it's really easy to get inspired when you have a good piece of beef and it turns out so amazing that your eyes close in satisfaction with every bite.
You guys think I'm joking.. I love my beef and this stuff was some of the best!
Let's jump right in!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Dry Brine Time: 2 hours
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Smoker Temp: 225°F
- Meat Finish Temp: 135°F
- Recommended Wood: Oak or Pecan
This tri-tip was around 2 lbs and was trimmed really nice on one side but the other side had a bit of a fat cap. If you were cooking this really hot, it might make sense to leave the fat cap but since we are smoking it and only cooking it to medium rare, it's best to remove the fat to get the seasoning closer to the meat.
Of course if you like to eat the fat, then feel free to leave it on.
Another thing to think about is that when dry brining, salt does not absorb into fat. It will sit there all day long, no melting, no absorption. By removing the fat, you are increasing the surface area for dry brining.
Dry brining is simply sprinkling a layer of salt onto the meat and letting it do it's thing. The salt immediately begins to draw moisture to the surface when then causes the salt to melt or dissolve. That salty solution is then absorbed down into the meat a little ways.
It's the same concept as wet brining, only better, in my opinion.
Professionals will tell you to use ½ teaspoon per lb of meat when dry brining. I'm not a professional so I just eyeball it. I've done this enough to know about what it needs to look like in order to get a good result.
For this tri-tip, I coated one side and then flipped it over to do the other side.
This will give you an idea of the salt coverage I used.
I then placed the meat in a covered container and put that into the fridge for 2 hours while I went to the gym to try and offset what I was about to do later😀
When I returned, I pulled the meat out of the fridge.
The ONLY reason, I can season the tri-tip with my own Texas style rub is because it is low in salt. My original rub is even lower in salt.
I never did like a rub that was based on salt!
I always get the question: why not just use the Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) for dry brining since it contains salt. Well, like I said, it's fairly low in salt so it woudn't do as good of a job and it's not intended for that.
In my opinion it's usually best to dry brine tri-tip and steak with straight salt and then season with a low salt rub when you're ready to cook.
Once the Texas style rub is applied, it's a good idea to leave it sitting to let the meat and the rub get to know each other and of course, I like to let the meat warm up a little as well.
This is a great time to go get the smoker ready.
It does not matter whether you are using a stick burner, charcoal, electric, gas or a pellet smoker or even a grill. As long as you set it up with indirect heat and you are getting around 225°F at grate level, you can cook this tri-tip successfully.
For those of you using drum smokers like the Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC), this is not really indirect heat but because the meat is so far from the heat, you get a similar effect. The PBC does tend to cook at around 275°F and therefore the meat will get done faster than in a regular smoker.
If your smoker uses a water pan, fill that up as well.
Use oak and/or pecan for smoke if you have it and keep that smoke going the entire time if possible.
Keep a CLOSE eye on the temperature since that is the ONLY way to truly know when it's perfect.
For keeping a close eye on the temperature I normally use a Thermapen or ThermoPop by ThermoWorks once it's been on for about an hour and then every 10 minutes or so after that. This time I used the Meater which is a wireless probe that sticks in the meat and connects to your phone via bluetooth (inserted in the meat in the image below). I have one of the earlier models and the range is not as good as the newer models they have now but I love the fact that with a single probe you get meat temperature, ambient temperature and the app mathematically calculates the finish time.. and quite accurately most of the time.
If you have one of the newer models, let me know what kind of range you are getting. The company now boasts 165 feet which is really great.
You are probably going to be looking at about 2 hours but this will vary a little from smoker to smoker and, of course, depending on the thickness of the meat.
This is optional but I think it's well worth the trouble and adds a lot of flavor to the meat.
When the meat reaches about 110 to 115°F is a great time to remove it from the smoker and place it over some hot coals. There are several ways to do this if you don't have a charcoal grill with a grate over it.
- Use a gas grill – if you have a gas grill, turn it on high about 30 minutes before the tri-tip is ready to sear and get the grates as hot as you possibly can. If you have a set of GrillGrates, this is what they were made for. Let them get searing hot then place the tri-tip on the grate for a couple of minutes on each side. If the temperature is not quite to 135°F (medium rare) then throw it back on the smoker after searing to bring it on up to the desired temperature.
- Use a charcoal chimney – Seems crazy I know, but you can place a small grate over the top of a charcoal chimney and put an excellent sear on steaks, tri-tip, etc. . You may have to move the tri-tip around a little bit to get all of it since the opening at the top of the charcoal chimney will probably be a little smaller than the size of the meat. If the temperature is not quite to 135°F (medium rare) then throw it back on the smoker after searing to bring it on up to the desired temperature.
- Use the broiler on your electric oven – This is searing from the top down but it works quite well. Place the tri-tip in a pan to keep the mess to a minimum and place the tri-tip on a rack that is about 8-12 inches from the broiler on top of your oven. On gas ovens you normally place the meat in a special broiling drawer below the flame but same concept. If the temperature is not quite to 135°F (medium rare) then throw it back on the smoker after searing to bring it on up to the desired temperature.
When the temperature of that tri-tip is reading 135°F after searing, it's time to remove it from the heat
For best results, loosely wrap it in foil for a little rest time. I usually allow about 10-15 minutes before slicing but anything you give it is better than nothing at all.
Slice it up into pieces about the thickness of a pencil but for the best tenderness, be sure to cut it according to the proper grain direction. You will noticed that the long narrow end that faces right, the grain runs down the length. On the piece on the left, the grain direction runs front to back.
I like to cut it into (2) pieces first:
Then since I took note of the grain direction, I sliced it according to the pattern below to give me the best tenderness.
Use it as an entree with other sides, place small pieces of it on top of a great salad or use strips of it for fajitas (one of my favorites). You are only limited by your imagination so don't be afraid to try something new and if you come up with something that's crazy good.. let me know in the comments below.
***Note: you get the Texas style rub recipe free with your order!
If I could give these recipes away, I would do that. I really want you to have them! But, then, this is how I support the newsletter, the website and all of the other stuff that we do here to promote the art of smoking meat.
Read these recent testimonies:
I recently purchased both recipes. The files did not come thru right but Jeff was prompt to get it fixed. I tried them both last weekend and they were a huge hit. I followed his burnt ends recipe to the letter and my neighbors thought I was some master chef! Thanks Jeff! -Susan T.
Thank you for the great advice. Followed your rib recipe and everyone loved them. Used your rub and sauce. On point! -Charles W.
Love the sauce and rub recipes. So far I have used them on beef ribs, pork ribs, and different chicken parts. Can't wait to do a beef brisket. Texas rub is great as well! -Peter S.
Love the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future! -Michelle M.
I tried the rub on a beef brisket and some beef ribs the other day and our entire family enjoyed it tremendously. I also made a batch of the barbeque sauce that we used on the brisket as well as some chicken. We all agreed it was the best sauce we have had in a while. -Darwyn B.
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Smoked and Seared Tri-tip
- 1+ tri-tips (2 to 3 lbs each)
- 1 tsp Coarse kosher salt per 2 lb tri-tip (Morton's blue box works great)
- Jeff's Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub)
Step 1: Trim the Fat
- If you are cooking the tri-tip low and slow, then there is no reason to leave the fat cap intact. Remove it with a sharp knife.
Step 2: Dry Brine
- Apply coarse kosher salt to both sides of the meat at a rate of about 1/2 teaspoon per lb. 1 teaspoon of coarse kosher salt covers a 2 lb tri-tip.
- Place meat in a lidded container and into the fridge for 2 hours.
- It is not necessary to rinse the salt from the meat.
Step 3: Season with Texas Rub
- Apply a light coat of Jeff's Texas style rub to the top side of the tri-tip.
- Set the meat aside while you go get the smoker ready.
Step 4: Setup the Smoker
- Setup your smoker for cooking at about 225°F with indirect heat if possible. If your smoker uses a water pan fill it up.
- Let the smoker preheat for about 30 minutes before proceeding to the next step.
Step 5: Cook with Smoke
- Lay the tri-tip right on the smoker grate or you can use something like a Weber grill pan or Bradley rack to make it easy to move it to and from the kitchen.
- Use oak and/or pecan for smoke if you have it and keep that smoke going the entire time if possible.
- Keep a CLOSE eye on the temperature since that is the ONLY way to truly know when it's perfect.
Step 6: Sear It!
- When the meat reaches about 110 to 115°F is a great time to remove it from the smoker and place it over a fire, some hot coals or under the broiler of your oven to sear the meat.
- The idea here is to brown the outside of the meat not just to make sear marks. This browning improves the flavor greatly.
- If the meat has not reached 135°F when you are done searing, place the meat back in the smoker to finish.
Step 7: Rest and Serve
- When finished, remove the tri-tip from the heat.
- For best results, loosely wrap it in foil for a little rest time. I usually allow about 10-15 minutes before slicing.
- Slice it up into pieces about the thickness of a pencil.
- Serve and enjoy!