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Dumb Tri-Tip question...

Discussion in 'Beef' started by tj333, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. OK...first, I'll start by saying I stumbled across Prime grade tri-tip at Costco the other day and bought them out.  I've never seen prime grade before and the marbling looks fantastic - really excited about these.  I'm trying to post a pic, but I'm new so it may take a bit for the mods to approve it.

    I realize I should preface this with a tidbit about me...I went to school in San Luis Obispo, CA.  I realize that this forum has members world-wide, so for those non-Californian's, San Luis Obispo is 30 minutes north of Santa Maria.  It is also home to the Firestone Grill, which IMHO, has the best tasting tri-tip sandwich and is something I've desperately been trying to recreate for years...made some good tri-tip, but nothing close to Firestone.  Turns out what I've suspected for years is true...in addition to getting great cuts of meat, they have a secret weapon - C-Vap ovens, then finish it on their massive indoor wood burning fire pit.

    Sadly, I don't have a C-Vap...and the War and Finance department (Mrs. TJ) will not approve that purchase.

    What I do have is a COS, and my plan is to smoke it with red oak chunks and lump charcoal to an internal temp of 130-135, then finish it on the sear burner, cut serve and enjoy.  However, my wife is a nurse and dinner time can be unpredictable depending on how her shift goes...my thought was to smoke it with it reaching temp about 1/2 an hour before the earliest I could expect her to be home, and then put it in foil, a beach towel and a cooler and let it rest until she got home, slice, serve and enjoy.

    The dumb question is...when to sear?  Sear at the end of the smoke and let it rest, or let it rest and then pull it out and sear it when she gets home (after an appropriate rest, of course).

    Thanks in advance!
  2. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Legendary Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Id Smoke It Then A Quick Sear. Let It Rest For Atleast 30 minutes. the longer the rest the better
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  3. pgsmoker64

    pgsmoker64 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I agree with Brian.

    The process is known as a reverse sear...smoke for as long as it takes to get the IT to about 110 - 115 then throw it on a very hot grill about 2-3 minutes on each side until a perfect medium rare!

    A simple seasoning is perfect...S&P works just fine!

    Good luck

  4. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    No such thing as a dumb question here, TJ. I see your predicament...if you start smoking too early, do you rest for a bit, then sear when Mrs TJ walks in the door, or sear immediately after the smoke (preferred method) and then rest. Here's a possible issue...if you smoke, rest, then sear, you still need (aptly rephrased, I would recommend) another rest before slicing to redistribute those precious juices back to the core of the meat. If rested too long, then seared, then rested again, that hopefully won't sit in the danger-zone temps/time for too long...that would take a rather lengthy rest for the first round to really be an issue. Getting it back up to temp internally during the sear to be palatable, not loosing too much internal moisture from smoking to minimum temp, then rest, then hit with high heat, and lastly, judging how long that may take and how hot of a sear burner, then how much will it actually sear (hopefully not charred beyond recognition) are the questions I can't answer, but can hopefully help you to answer them yourself.

    I would at this point have to suggest that your wife do her best to give you a heads-up as soon as she's out the door and heading for whatever her mode of personal/public transit is to get home (the earlier the better, but not so early that she could get called back in for additional patients, if she's an ER nurse, if that makes sense)...just text or 10-second "on my way, babe" phone call. At least with that info, you'll have more to base your decision on and hopefully be able to pull it together from there to give her and yourself the best tri-tip experience you can offer with your current situation.

    OK, I just had a bit more productive thinking after re-reading this (tired from a brisket smoke in progress, I guess). I would consider a reduced smoke chamber temp, say 200-205* instead of 225*, or whatever you were planning on (assuming this is not injected or otherwise tampered with...intact whole muscle meat)...this would allow you more time in the smoker, if needed, until you're ready to sear...gives just one resting period. Say the I/T is only 100* and you get word she's on her way home...no problem, just hit the grill and let 'er rip...check I/T during the sear...don't forget about your carry-over during resting being higher with more time over high heat. It can rest while she's getting home and be ready when she walks in the door. Just trade some smoke time for sear time, right?

    Best of luck, and have a great smoke and sear!!! I just did a reverse sear on my 1st tri-tips a few weeks ago, and it is definitely worth a revisit...too good not to wanna do it again!!!

    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013
  5. I've done alot of Tri tips, but never one that beautiful.... I NEVER use this, but OMG.   That is one incredible hunk O' meat.  You can't go wrong with that, just yank it off wherever it's cooking at 130, and rest.  I am jealous!!!!

  6. Thanks, all - and Mbogo, when I saw it in the meat cooler my eyes about popped out of my skull.
  7. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Beautiful cuts!

    Taking to 130 - 135 and then searing would be way too well done for me.

    Depends on the preference of the War Department?

    Good luck and good smoking.
  8. Beautiful cut of meat! I don't pretend to me as experienced as many of the guys on here but, I am a strong proponent of the reverse sear right before you eat it. I think if you sear it then hold it too long, the carmelization gets soft. I agree with the comments about cooking slow, then resting, then searing at the end. Wrapped in foil, towels and in an ice chest, it should hold fine for quite a while. BTW, I leave my thermometer in the meat after I put it in the ice chest just in case I pulled it too late and its temp gets too high. Yes, I have done that! :-(

    I just told my wife we are going to Costco tomorrow to see if ours has any of that prime Tri-Tip.

    Thanks for the heads-up TJ. Hope you guys have a perfect smoke!

  9. I will apologize in advance - no pics. Ate (inhaled) it too quickly... was amazing. I got impatient and pulled it out of the smoker at 125, and honestly, I will probably pull it off at 120 next time. Gave it a seat of 2 minutes per side, wrapped it in foil and towels and it got a ready of about 45 minutes before the wife got home... would like a bit longer rest next time, but we were both impatient.

    Was excellent. Served on grill toasted French rolls with garlic butter and a sweeter sauce, absolute mouthful of flavors and balanced with the smoke perfectly - this literally was as good as Firestone.

    Next time I am in Costco, I am going to ask about ordering more of the prime grade tri. I have one more in reserve, but I'm totally hooked - and while it was more expensive than choice tri tip, it was completely worth it in my opinion at $6/#.

    Thank you, everyone for the advice and responses - greatly appreciated.
  10. $6 /lb??  Thats an absolute steal!!  We pay close to 8 here for choice. IMHO,it's as good or better than prime rib, and as I'm sure you noticed, zero waste, all eatin! Totally awesome piece of meat, Kudos!
  11. Those are gorgeous.  The price was definitely a steal.  I agree 130*F before a sear would be a bit high in our house.  I prefer to sear it first then move it indirect and take it to 135*F.  But if doing a reverse sear, I would take it to ~ 100*F, remove it from the indirect, to rest for a few minutes, then blast it with the volcano hot direct sear.