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Need advice: just cooked my first tri-tip

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smokeybeaver well done
well done

Posts: 835
Howdy,

I purchased a bag of four tri-tips (roasts) at the restaurant supply house. I placed a rub on them (Santa Maria style rub) and smoked them with alder and mesquite.

I smoked them on my Brinkmann electric, that usually maintains a temperature of 275.

My issues:

1. After four hours, it had no smoke ring.

2. After four hours, the highest temp in the roasts was 140 degrees, I pulled two roasts off at that point, and foiled them, and gave them to friends. I did cut off 2 inches from the end of one roast, and it was well done and dry.

3. The third roast stayed on for a total of 5 1/4 hours. The instant read thermometer read 144 degrees.

I did not calibrate the thermometer, but I had one digital and one dial instant read, and both recorded the exact same temps.

Any ideas what I did wrong? Should I have marinated the tri-tip? Should I have basted it during cooking? Should I have started with better quality tri-tip?

Any advice would be helpful.

Post Sat Aug 09, 2008 10:50 am
bourj medium
medium

Posts: 152
Location: Chicago suburbs
Well, I'm still learning myself, but one of the best bits of wisdom I have picked up around here is "Cook to temp, not to time." I would get a digital probe thermometer and keep it in the roasts for the cook. Like a lot of people, I actually use two, one for the meat and one for the grate, so I know exactly what the temperature is around the meat.

A few questions:
- How big were the tri-tips?
- Did you put them on cold or at room temp?
- What grade of meat were the tri-tips -- select or choice? If they were select, they may not have been well marbled or have decent fat content.
- Does the Brinkmann have a built-in thermometer, and if so, have you checked it/calibrated it? I thought Brinkmanns didn't have built in therms, but I don't remember. Perhaps the unit itself is not getting to the right temp?

I would perhaps do a "dry run" of the smoker and throw an oven thermometer inside it, then check it at a few intervals (say, every 30 mins). Make sure it's getting to the 275 you say it should be maintaining.

I don't think marinating or basting would have much to do with the internal temp. Is there any sort of water pan you can use to raise the moisture? Were the fat caps on the tri tips?

Of course, in the end, this could end up being one of those Unsolved (Barbecue) Mysteries. (What a great show that would be...)

Sorry to hear about your problems. But as many people on here have reassured me, everyone has their failures when it comes to this stuff, and they only make us better at it in the long run.
Genesis Silver B
"A vegetarian hosting a barbecue is like a Quaker hosting an orgy." - 5.16.07

Post Sat Aug 09, 2008 1:22 pm
geoff7877 medium
medium

Posts: 157
Location: Petaluma, CA.
Tri tip is much different than say brisket. A lot of people are confused on what the right cooking time and technique is for a tri tip. This cut has not been used for very long and it is rarely used outside of the western US until recently. Tri tip is extremely popular in California and for most of the year, you will find every grocery store in town cooking tri tip in front of the store.

Tri tip, just like a ribeye or any other kind of steak will dry out and get very tough when over cooked. I cooked one last weekend for 40 minutes to mediaum rare. They are obviuosly thicker than a regular steak, but the same cooking methods apply. There is marbleing through the meat, but nothing tough enough that it needs to be broken down to tenderize the meat.

Tri tip is very flavorful and marinading only enhances the flavor, but doesn't really have an effect on how juicy the meat is. I seared it on both sides, 5 minutes a side, than moved it over to the cool side for 20 minutes, than finished it up back over the direct heat. Just like anything else, the meat has to rest before cutting.

I have tried cooking tri tip low and slow and it has never really turned out good. The flavor was there, but they dry out. Sear it and cook it to medium rare (or whatever done-ness you prefer) and they are hard to beat.

Good luck on your next one!
Char-Griller Super Pro with SFB

Post Sat Aug 09, 2008 3:05 pm
Old Smoker well done
well done

Posts: 1247
I never tried smoking a tri-tip, I did mine indirect keeping my cooking temp at around 280-300 deg. Cosidering the family doesn't like seeing any shade of red but light pink,I tried to get it up to about 170 internal, that never happened,I ended up pulling it when the internal temp hit about 157( I really don't think it would have gone much higher unless I torched it) and had to slice into it to peek, so I'm somewhat under the impression that you shouldn't smoke a tri-tip. Probably the reason mine didn't dry out is because I get really lucky sometimes when I grill. :lol: I used RO charcoal and a couple of small pcs. of hickory,put the fire in the main chamber by the vent and the roast on the left of a drip pan,spritzed it a few times during the cook, it was on for maybe 2.5 hrs. If I understand correctly,tri-tip is like a thick steak from the botton tip of the sirloin primal. I would try it again because once you hit it right,they're really good only next time try indirect grilling.
22.5 WSM - Chargriller - Traeger Texas
I cook to eat not to compete

Post Sat Aug 09, 2008 3:55 pm
geoff7877 medium
medium

Posts: 157
Location: Petaluma, CA.
I smoked one once and it was not good. I'm not saying that smoked tri tip isn't good, but the one that I smoked was not. It kinda tasted like fish. Not what I was going for at all.

Check out this website search for tri tip. Being that I'm a Californian, it's a great site and some good tips for cooking tri tip. Tri tip is cooked all over the place out here in Cal-ee-forn-ee....

http://www.cbbqa.org/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page
Char-Griller Super Pro with SFB

Post Sat Aug 09, 2008 6:06 pm
mbshop well done
well done

Posts: 863
Location: visalia ca
i usually cover mine in mustard salt and pepper. let it sit covered overnight or at least several hours. then i indirect cook until a int temp of 130 then direct grill on each side for no more than five minutes. tri tip does have a grain so make sure you cut it across the grain.
george
spam, can't live without it.

Post Sat Aug 09, 2008 7:41 pm
NC BBQ'R medium
medium

Posts: 160
Location: North Carolina
Tri tip should be cooked like a roast. Cook with indirect heat, 300-350 degrees. You can sear either at the beginning or the end (reverse sear) over direct heat. It should be cooked to medium rare to medium. If you overcook it, it will be tough. It is not a cut of meat that you cook to the point of "pulling". Tri tips are a great cut of meat if you can find it. Takes marinade very well. A lot of times, you find them pre-marinaded in the stores.
Image

Post Sat Aug 09, 2008 7:54 pm
Old Smoker well done
well done

Posts: 1247
The two I did where the packaged in marinade kind, I didn't rinse them very well and thought they were a tad salty tasting. Today I looked at some in Costco, they were a lot bigger than the ones at the local grocery, but I picked up some strips instead, now I'm having buyers remorse .. :lol:
22.5 WSM - Chargriller - Traeger Texas
I cook to eat not to compete

Post Sun Aug 10, 2008 1:54 am

Posts: 39
Location: Tucson, AZ
Did you open the lid while they were cooking to either check on them or just see what's up?

Sure you had enough fuel in the smoker - enough wood?

Did you get up to temp before placing the meat or did you put it on as soon as you fired up?


Never used an electric but these are some basic things i've learned from smoking w/ my WSM.
Weber Summit S-650
Weber Somkey Mountain Smoker
Weber One-Touch Performer (blue)

Post Sun Aug 10, 2008 5:09 am
smokeybeaver well done
well done

Posts: 835
bourj wrote:
A few questions:
- How big were the tri-tips?
- Did you put them on cold or at room temp?
- What grade of meat were the tri-tips -- select or choice? If they were select, they may not have been well marbled or have decent fat content.
- Does the Brinkmann have a built-in thermometer, and if so, have you checked it/calibrated it? I thought Brinkmanns didn't have built in therms, but I don't remember. Perhaps the unit itself is not getting to the right temp?

I would perhaps do a "dry run" of the smoker and throw an oven thermometer inside it, then check it at a few intervals (say, every 30 mins). Make sure it's getting to the 275 you say it should be maintaining.

I don't think marinating or basting would have much to do with the internal temp. Is there any sort of water pan you can use to raise the moisture? Were the fat caps on the tri tips?

Of course, in the end, this could end up being one of those Unsolved (Barbecue) Mysteries. (What a great show that would be...)

Sorry to hear about your problems. But as many people on here have reassured me, everyone has their failures when it comes to this stuff, and they only make us better at it in the long run.


Folks, thanks for all the advice so far. I will try and respond where questions were asked of me.

-These were large roasts, averaging four pounds each.

-I probably had the roasts out of the fridge for one hour before cooking.

-I don't know the grading. I will check the next time I go to the restaurant supply house (Smart and Final).

-No built in thermometer on the Brinkmann. I have used a grate thermometer in the past to determine the smoker temperature. Yesterday I used a Weber wireless in one roast the entire time, and double checked with a dial thermometer. Both registered the same temps.

-I may do a dry run tomorrow.

Thanks again for your reply.

Post Sun Aug 10, 2008 5:16 am
smokeybeaver well done
well done

Posts: 835
TucsonTerror wrote:
Did you open the lid while they were cooking to either check on them or just see what's up?

Sure you had enough fuel in the smoker - enough wood?

Did you get up to temp before placing the meat or did you put it on as soon as you fired up?


Never used an electric but these are some basic things i've learned from smoking w/ my WSM.


-I opened the smoker three times. Once to add liquid to the beans that were in the water bowl (I was hoping to catch the drippings). Two more times to take temps with the dial thermometer.

- I added wood like once per hour, about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of Luhr Jensen wood chips.

- I added the meat once the smoker started smoking.

Thanks for your reply.

Post Sun Aug 10, 2008 8:02 am
phillyjazz well done
well done

Posts: 2977
Location: Philly

A tri-tip is like a cross between a roast and a steak. I always cook them rare-to-medium-rare.
- Phillyjazz -

Grill Dome ceramic / Ducane Affinity 4200 gasser/ Concrete pit
Image

Post Sun Aug 10, 2008 2:13 pm

Posts: 4
I've cooked a couple of these, and here's a very easy, yet delicious method for tri-tip on my CG. It's my favorite way to cook it.

- Look for a well-marbled cut.

- In the morning take the tri-tip out of the frig and use a sharp knife to punch a few deep slits in the roast in various spots.

- Drop into a zip-lock bag and pour in some Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar salad dressing. Let sit in frig for about 4-6 hours.

- Take out 1/2 hour before you cook, drain marinade, and let sit.

- Cut 5-6 slits into the roast and insert chunks of fresh garlic into the slits. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

- Start 1/2 chimney of charcoal (should not need more).

- Put a couple of chunks of mesquite (or any wood - but I like mesquite with tri-tip) in the bottom of the right side of the grill, and then pour hot coals on top. Put rack on medium/low level.

- Place tri-tip over hot side of the grill (direct heat) and sear on both sides for about 5 minutes each. Watch out for flare-ups and move roast if that happens.

- Move tri-tip to left side of the grill (indirect heat) and cook to an internal temp of 140 F. Should take somewhere between 20-30 more minutes.

- Remove and let stand for 15-20 minutes (if you can stand it) and then slice across grain and serve. Should be able to cut it with a fork.

I don't bother monitoring chamber temps, but can tell you that the lid thermometer usually reads 300 or so. That's usually about 50 degrees cooler than grill level.

Never tried to smoke a tri-tip, but I don't think there's much to be gained because grilled is very good and tender, and you can still get some smoke flavor in there.

Good luck -

Spike


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