Continuing my smoker education, this weekend’s attempt was tri-tip. I picked up a couple of tri-tips at Costco, I think somewhere around $6.99 a pound, great cuts of meat…
I decided to grilled one half, and smoke the other half. Seasoned the tri-tip with sea salt, black pepper, and granulated garlic. I marinated the meat for about 2 hours, and then let it come to room temperature.
I prepared by Meco electric smoker, filled the water bowl, and placed one small (3” by 1” by 1”) piece cheery wood chunk on the grate right above the heating element. I attached the thermometer in the tri-tip; I placed ½ of my tri-tip in the smoker. I reached the desired smoker temperature of 230 degrees. After about 25 minutes it was apparent that the wood was not providing any smoke. I’ve not had any luck with cherry wood, so I replaced the cherry wood with a similar sized apple piece. Again trouble developing the desired smoke. So I placed the wood right next to the heating element, and was able to generate the desired smoke. I had the vents completely open, the smoke wasn’t really the desire Thin Blue smoke, there was a good amount of volume, but it was the best I could do. I had the bottom vent open for air flow, and both the top vents open to allow for a good flow… By the time I got the smoke flowing, the tri-tip was at 95 degrees, not sure if this was a problem, don’t think it was, but just another variable in the mix.
Anyways after about 2 ½ hours, the tri tip achieved the desired 138 degrees, so I pull it off the smoker, and wrapped in foil.
While this was cooling in the foil, I heated my gas grill. I grilled the other half of the tri-tip, about 5 minutes on each side, and then foil wrapped this ½ as well. After about one half hour, I unwrapped both tri-tips.
The grilled tri-tip was as I expected, charred on the outside, pink on the inside. Outrageous taste. I’ve grill hundreds of tri-tips. I’ve found a simple rub of salt/pepper/garlic to be the best, and the most important thing is to bring tri-tip to room temperature before grilling.
Now the smoked tri-tip was very flavorful, maybe just a tad too much smoke, sliced it very thin and served with Tony Roma’s BBQ sauce. Very good, the desired result was there, smoky flavored tri-tip. Just seems to be missing something. Maybe tri-tip is best left to the grill, and the use of smoking chips while grilling? I'd imagine that grilling tri-tip with red oak is the ultimate solution... but I don't have a wood fired grill.... It does seem like the smoked tri-tip will be unreal on sandwiches....
Conclusions: The grilled tri-tip offers up a very different flavor than the smoking of tri-tip. Could be the caramelization of the outer layer of the meat? Could be the charred crust of the exterior, but hard to dismiss the results from grilling. Many recommend grilling of tri-tip, and the results are undeniable. I think I need an additional test of smoking for 2 hours at 210 degrees, then grilling for a very short time to see if I can’t achieve the benefits of grilling with the smokiness of smoking…. I still need to resolve the problems I’m having with smoke generation. Seems like I need to ‘light’ one end of the wood chunk so that only a small amount of smoke is generated…. Is cherry wood harder than apple wood? Is cherry harder to ignite? Does cherry wood chunks work in an electric smoker?
Also might be time to dump this electric smoker for a Weber or gas model??
Sorry no pictures, wife had the camera….