Suggestions for First Tri-Tip

Discussion in 'Beef' started by rabbithutch, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    While at the HEB (TX supermarket) today to pick up a flank steak, I saw some small tri-tips; so I bought one. It weighs just a smidgen over 2 lbs.

    Having never cooked one (grilled, smoked, baked, or any other way) before, I thought I'd seek the wisdom and wise counsel of all the folks here who have done them. Do you rub or marinade, or both? What do you use? Would the same marinade I make for flank steak work on the tri-tip or does it need something different? (My marinade for fs is Worcestershire, A1, Newman's Own Italian, soy, salt, pepper, onion powder and minced garlic and I use a few chives if I remember. Usually this stays in the reefer overnight to 24 hours.)

    I'm thinking that my Weber OTG with a hot side and cool side with some wood chips will be the way to do this the first time. If and when I get the hang of it, I'll try one in my mini-WSM.

    Since this is beef and I usually cook beef to 120°-125° F, this is the final temp I would shoot for unless you guys and gals tell me something different.

    What questions did I not ask that I should have?

  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The Mini-WSM is the way to go. Load it up add some cherry and pecan, get er up to 265º and let it go to 125º. Salt, pepper garlic, oh man! Catch the drippinga and make Chef JJ's Aus jus!!!
  3. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  4. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thank you all for the responses. I hope I can do this piece of meat justice.

    I was a little confused on the cutting instructions until I saw the pictures. My first thought was to slice it like I slice flank steak (served as London broil at our house). After cooking to the right IT and letting the meat rest at least 20 minutes, I take my big chef knife and cut across the grain in the meat but I also lean the knife over so that I'm slicing at about 60° to the center plane of the steak.

    After looking at the links you folks so generously provided, what I'm taking away is that I should bisect at the tip then begin slicing at about a 90° angle to that first cut while keeping the knife at 90° to the center plane of the meat. Is that close to a correct description?
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That is correct! FYI tri tip makes awesome french dip sandwiches.
  6. Here is my best slicing diagram.

    I cook these on my weber with one charcoal separator filled just even with the top. I marinade in kikkoman terriyaki and crushed garlic. Then cook with cherry and oak. 25 mins before ready I paint on a mustard sauce and let that glaze. Rest and cut great stuff.
    woodcutter likes this.
  7. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great Qview! Thanks!
  8. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    OK, after several false starts, I just lit the charcoal (Ford blue) and placed some mesquite chips around on top in my mini-WSM. I didn't count the briquets but it looks to be about half a chimney. There are about 2-3 briquettes arranged in a circle around the outside of the fire box part. I'm waiting for it to get to temp and then I'll see if I can hold something between 250-270°. I've got my Maverick ET73 in the smoker and will put the other probe in the tri-tip when I put it on.

    I know it's not rocket science, but I've never cooked one of these before and have no idea how long it will take to get to an IT of 125°. Can anyone help me out with an estimate? The tt weighs 2 lbs.
  9. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You're off to a good start. Two hours tops at 265*.
  10. I just did a 2.5 pound tri-tip at 250 degrees. It took 2.5 hours to get to an IT of 165.
  11. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You have received excellent advice in this thread.

    Slicing is important and a little tricky.  Another pic:

    With the lower cut above, you can clearly see the grain running in two different directions.

    With the top cut above you clearly see two directions.  A careful inspection will show a small area with yet a third direction of grain.

    It will look very different after it is rubbed and cooked.  Some people cut a small notch in the raw meat to remind them of the cut points.  Might be helpful until more experience with these is gained.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  12. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for all your advice!

    I smoked the tri-tip, but it was not a complete success. First of all, I got too rushed to do any Qview. Pass the spittoon and I'll polish it up.

    I let the meat sit in a marinade for 48 hours. That was a bit too long. I'll know better next time. In fact, I knew better this time; I just couldn't smoke the roast when I had planned to do it.

    The mini-WSM got a bit hot on me. I haven't used it in a while and lost my touch with temp control. It spiked up to about 275° and I had a devil of a time getting it lower. I think I might need to calibrate the Maverick too. There was a bit of disparity between its reading and the through-the-top thermo I installed.

    I also suspect the Mav because it was showing an internal temp of 135° when I intended only to take it to 125° because I like my beef rare. It took only about an hour to reach that temp on a 2 lb. roast. Turns out it was very rare - but damned tasty!!!!

    I got the same reading with a quick read temp; but I'm certain it was not that high. Hmmm? Something else to work on.

    I read the meat grain and all the advice on slicing the tri-tip. I followed the advice and what the grain told me and sliced it as you suggested. It came out tender and very well flavored. The long marinade caused it to be a bit salty (I used some Kikkoman soy sauce in the marinade and it sat too long).

    Again, thank you for the advice. I'm going to try to find a tri-tip a bit larger soon and get back up on this horse.

  13. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Howdy, MLS!

    How was the tri-tip at the 165°? Well done? Medium well? Medium? Medium rare? Rare? Still moo'ing?

    I found that I had just removed the 'moo' at 135°. That surprised me because I cannot cook steak cuts that much without cooking them past medium rare. I like my beef rare, but not too bloody.
  14. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I always tent my tri tips with foil and let them rest 20 minutes or a little longer.

    A tri tip pulled at 135 and prompt tenting should reach 140 to 145 with the rest.

    You might also try a rub instead of a marinade.  The traditional preparation for these is with a rub. Not that tradition matters.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  15. For two, I use a freezer ziplock, Kikkoman Terriyaki with around 6 cloves crushed minced garlic(actually lately I have been cheating using the frozen Dorat crushed garlic from trader joes). Let that sit an hour or two flipping every 15 mins, and it is enough. I Jaccard my tri-tips as well.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
  16. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  17. Sorry for delay - I actually took it out at 160 not 165. If you dont tent and let it sit - then it is med well (what my wife requires). It will be basically well done with tenting.

    Now - I always cook two - so I can have one done the way I like. That one comes out at 130-135 and sits - usually ends up between med rare and med.

  18. Anything but traditional will get you lynched around these parts , Suzy Q,pepper, red oak ,open pit
    ohio mossy oak likes this.
  19. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yep. The traditional was done with a rub and grilled.

    They are good smoked, but I still grill nearly all of mine.

    Good luck and good smoking.

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