I cooked these smoked top sirloin steak a while back– dry brined and seasoned with my Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) and they were, without a doubt, hands down, the best steak I've had be it broiled, grilled, or smoked.
This write-up is going to give you all the juicy, beefy, delicious details about how I did it so you can replicate this in your own backyard.
Top sirloin is lean, tender and a good beefy flavor that works well in the smoker. I found these at Costco (where I purchase some of the meat that I cook) but if you have trouble finding it, you can also purchase tri-tip and cut it into thick steaks that are 1.5 to 2 inches thick.
I think almost any decent steak would fare well with this same treatment.
This steak has a fat cap on one side which can be easily trimmed off if you prefer.
Step 1: Dry Brine the Steaks
If there's one thing that can do more for a steak than anything else, it would have to be dry brining. I have really gotten into this over the last few years due to how effective it is in bringing out the natural flavors of meat.
Dry brining, for those who aren't familiar, is simply sprinkling salt on a piece of meat. The salt naturally draws moisture to the surface where it mixes together and creates a slurry. The slurry is then drawn back deep into the meat. It's almost magical!
Maybe I'm easily impressed but it surprises me every time I use this method.. the flavor that it brings out of the meat.
To dry brine a steak like these top sirloin steaks, just lay them flat in a pan and sprinkle coarse ground kosher salt on the top of them. I don't measure but you can compare the following image to your own for proper salt coverage.
The professionals recommend ½ teaspoon per pound of meat for what it's worth.
All of them are salted and then the pan of steaks is placed in the fridge for at least 2 hours but I recommend overnight or 8 hours for the full treatment.
Note: There is NO need to rinse the steaks after dry brining.
Step 2: Pan Sear
Many of us have been reverse searing steaks and other meats for years. It's a great way to do it but it's certainly not the only way to do things and this is where I encourage you to get out of your box and try something a little different =)
Reverse searing: A method by which steaks and other meats are smoked/cooked first and then seared just before serving.
For these top sirloin steaks, we are going to pan sear the steaks after dry brining them and before adding any seasoning to the outside. The idea is to add some color and to bring out some of that great flavor that only happens when steaks are seared over a hot flame or in a hot pan.
Note: This pan searing is best done outdoors if possible but indoors is fine if that's your only option.
Place a heavy skillet on the burner over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil and let it get hot before moving forward. You can also do this on a very hot griddle.
Meanwhile, use a paper towel to dry the steaks. We want them as dry as possible so they will brown with as little steam as possible.
When the grease is hot enough (I usually toss some water droplets into the grease and if they sizzle real good, I know it's ready), it's time to do some searing.
If you're inside using the range, turn on the fan in the hood over the oven and open the doors and windows because there might be some smoke.
Place one or more of the steaks into the pan for about 30-45 seconds. Lift them up periodically to check the color.
When they look good, flip them over.
I like to use my tongs to sear the sides as well just for uniformity of color and flavor throughout.
The temperature in the center of the steaks after searing was around 87°F.
I set the steaks aside and let them cool off before proceeding.
Sprinkle the Texas style rub directly on the steaks or you can do what I did and pour some of the rub out on a flat area and lay the steak in the rub.
Roll the edges in the rub as well to get nice coverage. Use plenty.
The top sirloin steaks are seared, seasoned and ready for the smoker!
I have placed them on a Weber grill pan so I can easily transport them out to the smoker and even leave them on it to smoke.
Step 4: Set up the Smoker
Setup your smoker for cooking at about 225°F (107°C) with indirect heat. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
I recommend letting any smoker preheat for 30-60 minutes before using it as this allows all of the metal to heat up and that helps to maintain heat and to recover faster when you open the door or lid.
I used the Camp Chef Woodwind for these awesome steaks but any smoker will work great as long as it can maintain the temperature adequately.
Once the smoker is preheated and ready to go, it's time to smoke!
Step 5: Smoke the Top Sirloin Steaks
Place the Weber grill pan of top sirloin steaks on the grate or you can place the steaks directly onto the grate. Close down the lid or door but don't go far.. they only take about an hour or less.
Oak wood is really good with these steaks but any good smoking wood will work just fine. I recommend keeping a light smoke going for the entire time they are cooking.
How long they take really depends on their temperature going in which is highly affected by the amount of time they sat on the cabinet during the last dry brining stage, how hot they got during the searing process, meat thickness and, of course, how well your smoker maintains temperature and how many times you open the lid/door to peek.
Use a remote meat thermometer like the Thermoworks “Smoke” if you have it so you can monitor the temperature of the steaks without having to open the lid.
Otherwise use a fast-reading handheld thermometer to quickly check a couple of them and then shut down the lid.
Step 6: Basting
I mixed up a concoction to baste the steaks and it worked really well. It consisted of the following:
Stir to combine and continue stirring as you use it as the oil will try to separate from the other liquids.
Use a spoon for best results and so you do not disturb the rub.. a couple of TBS per steak is sufficient.
A basting brush will also work in a pinch.
Baste as quickly as possible and close the lid/door.
Step 7: Finish Cooking
When the temperature of the steaks reach about 130°F (54°C), they are a perfect medium rare and can be removed from the smoker.
If the steaks cook unevenly, I remove them individually with tongs as they get done rather than wait on all of them.
Step 8: Rest for a While
It's always a great idea to let steaks rest for 10 minutes before cutting into them to let the juices calm down and even out.
One of mine got done before the others and it only rested for 3 minutes.. I just had to have a bite!
Step 9: Serve
You can serve these as whole steaks or slice them up ahead of time.. however you like to do it at your house.
These babies got sliced up ¼ inch thick and boy were they beautiful!
I probably ate an entire steak before bringing them in.. irresistibly good!
Lovely edge to edge medium rare, perfectly seasoned all the way through due to the dry brining process and deliciously seasoned on the outside due to my Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub).. you just can't get no better than this!
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Smoke, Wood, Fire: The Advanced Guide to Smoking Meat – Unlike the first book, this book does not focus on recipes but rather uses every square inch of every page teaching you how to smoke meat. What my first book touched on, this second book takes it into much greater detail with lots of pictures.
It also includes a complete, step-by-step tutorial for making your own smoked “streaky” bacon using a 100 year old brine recipe.