A Southern California company called Rooftop BBQ (also a fellow Competitive BBQ Team) has a fantastic rub that I highly recommend. Check them out when you get a chance. All their products are great!
For this recipe, I used the Rooftop Rub but if you haven't ordered yours yet or it hasn't arrived, you can substitute this for the following (per tri-tip):
Black Pepper - 1 1/2 tblspn
Granulated Garlic - 1 1/2 tblsn
Salt (Sea Salt is best) - 1 1/2 tblspn
and the rest:
Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
Water - 1/4 cup
White Wine Vinegar - 2 tspn
Mix well and place mixture and tri-tip in a zip lock bag for 2 hours. I let mine go for 4 hours.
I smoked mine at 225F using mesquite. Beef is one of the only meats, in my opinion, that can handle the heavy flavor imparted by mesquite. The historical choice is oak but this is one cut of meat that has enough flavor all on its' own to hold up to any wood / fuel choice.
If you don't have a smoker, you can cook this on a gas grill by turning the burners on low on one side and cooking on the cool side. A oven thermometer placed on the cool side - NEVER place the thermometer in open flame area - and adjust your flame so the grate temp on the cool side is around 225 or as low as you can get it.
The key to successfully cooking a great piece of tri-tip is to pull it off the grill at the correct internal temperature.
There are two schools of thought on tri-tip - to sear or not to sear. If you have the capacity to sear, I recommend it. For this method, as soon as the internal temp hits 130, move the tri-tip to a high heat - direct flame area and sear on each side for 3 - 4 minutes. The internal temp should be around 140F at this point.
If you do not have access to a direct flame area, cook the tri-tip until it hits between 137 and 142F.
The final internal temp will be determined by how well done you like your beef. Whatever your preference, I would avoid exceeding 145F internal temp. The meat will continue to cook and the internal temp will continue to rise a few degrees while it rests. If you let the temp climb much past 145, I think the meat starts to get tough.
Once the cooking process is done and the desired internal temp is reached, wrap the tri-tip in foil, then in a beach towel, and place in a clean, dry cooler for at least 30 minutes so the meat can rest.
You can see that after this tri-tip has rested for 1 hour, the internal temp has climbed to 150F. Probably a little too hot for me but it came out a solid medium. I like to shoot for a final internal temp of 145 but the kids and boss like it a little more done.
Slice the tri-tip across the grain in slices about 1/4" thick. Tri-tip is tricky and the grain of the meat does shift throughout the piece of meat. Just keep watching the grain and adjust your slicing direction as you progress through the meat.
Plated up with some smoked chicken breast and some corn on the cob. Thanks for looking!