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Tri- tip: smoke or grill?

dimsumgirl May 26, 2013 12:59 PM

I have a tri tip roast marinating in the refrigerator. It's a small one, about 2 1/2 pounds. I've never smoked it before; always cook it on the Weber charcoal grill. Any advice about smoking a tri tip? Would it make it tough or would the smoke flavor be good? How long to smoke?

  1. MsMaryMc May 28, 2013 11:55 PM

    We grill it, over medium-high direct heat. I rub it first with a dry rub, and baste with a basting sauce--both from sources that claimed to be the real Santa Maria deal. It's damned good.

    Santa Maria Tri-Tip (and All the Fixin's)

    1. m
      mike0989 May 28, 2013 01:05 PM

      I've always grilled. Done over wood or charcoal with wood chips, you get lenty of smoke. The method i use it to sear the lean side, then flip fat side down to finish cooking. I got the tip for doing it this way from the Santa Maria Elk's lodge. It surprised me when I saw it, but it works.


      1. a
        acgold7 May 27, 2013 07:29 PM

        You can absolutely smoke it as long as you don't take it past medium rare. It won't get tough as long as you don't view it as a brisket, which must be cooked to well-done to break down the collagen and has plenty of fat to lubricate it. Tri-tip has neither. So smoke it low and slow but it'll still be done in an hour or two, maybe less. A good electronic probe thermometer is essential.

        We smoke ours at no more than 180 or 200F but take it out when it hits 122F. You can give it a quick sear over a hot grill at that point if you like and it'll rise to about 130F. Don't let it go higher.

        1. s
          suburban_mom May 26, 2013 04:52 PM

          I grill mine over hardwood charcoal and toss in soaked smoking chips. Tri-tip cooks deceptively quickly.

          2 Replies
          1. re: suburban_mom
            dimsumgirl May 27, 2013 03:22 PM

            Thanks to roxlet and the pitmaster. I wanted to try smoking but I'll wait until I get a bigger tri tip roast. I soaked cherry wood chips and we used those in the Weber kettle. Quick cook and got it to medium rare. Really tasty and good smoke flavor. Thanks all!

            1. re: dimsumgirl
              rjbh20 May 28, 2013 01:17 PM

              Hope it works out. BTW -- soaking wood chips is a waste of time unless you're looking for steam. If not, the water evaporates in a minute or so and you're back to dry chips. If you're concerned about them catching fire are burning up too quickly, wrap in foil and punch a few holes -- this reduces the available oxygen and keeps the flames down.

          2. d
            Dirtywextraolives May 26, 2013 04:19 PM

            They are all about that size :)

            I wouldn't smoke it; grilling it keeps it juicy & moist, you don't want to over cook it. Depending on how hot your fire is and if it's gas or charcoal, I recommend taking the temp after its seared to get it to t he degree of done ness you desire. Enjoy it!

            1. r
              rasputina May 26, 2013 03:32 PM

              grill, it's great seared on the outside and medium rare inside.

              1. roxlet May 26, 2013 01:58 PM

                With a 21/2 lb tri tip, my husband, the pitmaster, said that you will wind up with shoe leather if you smoke a tri tip that size. We had tri tip last night, and he grilled it. If you look on WFD #219 (towards the end of the thread posted by rjbh20), you will see a photo of the results -- medium rare, and perfectly juicy. He grilled it over a hot fire, and then had it rest in the warming oven while we had our first course.

                1 Reply
                1. re: roxlet
                  rjbh20 May 26, 2013 06:39 PM

                  Something like this

                2. c
                  chloebell May 26, 2013 01:18 PM

                  We've done both. I preferred the smoked one. This particular tri-tip was 6lbs. Hubby smoked it at 275 and it took 45 minutes. It was really good. He used apple chips.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: chloebell
                    dimsumgirl May 26, 2013 01:22 PM

                    Thanks for the tip! I've never tried smoking one before but I'll do it at your suggestion. I think I might have some apple chips or at least cherry ones. If it took 45 minutes, I will have time to take it out and let it come to room temp before starting it on the smoker.

                    1. re: dimsumgirl
                      chloebell May 26, 2013 01:23 PM

                      Yes, w/ yours being 2 1/2lbs, I would think it wouldn't take long at all to smoke.

                      1. re: chloebell
                        dimsumgirl May 26, 2013 01:56 PM

                        Thanks chloebell. I have it resting on the counter to bring it to room temp before I start smoking it. Don't have apple chips but we have lots of mesquite and hickory, some alderwood and cherry. I'm soaking the cherry chips right now.

                        I used to be perfectly happy with charcoal grilled meat and then some Texans introduced me to smoked meats! We don't get much brisket out here in CA. In fact, it's kinda hard to find but we have plenty of tri-tip so I'm gonna give it a try! Thanks for your advice.

                      2. re: dimsumgirl
                        Sal Vanilla May 28, 2013 02:42 PM

                        Not too many chips when you are smoking it though.

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