It is actually a lovely cut of beef which comes from the bottom sirloin, and proves not all low and slow BBQ has to be long!
The Tri-Tip is a small, triangular cut, which is full of beefy flavour, but also very lean. I'm using two organic, grass fed, Black Angus pieces and we'll be treating one with a salt and pepper smoked honey glaze, and the other with a Vietnamese BBQ marinade.
Tri-Tip is an uncommon cut, not huge in BBQ circles, but seems to be really popular in California, and the Santa Maria BBQ style. You will also find whole Tri-Tips cooking in Brazilian Churrasco joints.
Tri-Tip does pop up occasionally in BBQ contests for its "next level" difficulty, and has had many a cook pulling their hair out!! Might explain why I'm balding...
I love experimenting with flavours, so this was a perfect opportunity to try some new tastes. I was really excited to try my buddy Kris's new creation, Blend Smoked Honey, he cold smokes it, and the resulting product is nothing short of a mouthgasm.
The other marinading partner in crime was the Suon Nuong marinade, with its heady scent of lemongrass mixed with the slightly spoilt/fermented fish sauce taste. South East Asian cuisine has such a huge influence on Australian food, that it seemed natural to be combining these flavour profiles with the whole Cali/West Coast vibe that we have here in Queensland to create something uniquely regional.
What you'll need...
Jar of good quality honey or...
Jar of Vietnamese BBQ marinade (Suon Nuong)
What to do...
I begin by cutting the Tri-Tip in two, separating the smaller tip from the body of the muscle. The reason i do this is two fold. Firstly, it allows a lot more flavour/smoke/marinade penetration into the beef, but it also allows me to manage the cook, I can remove the smaller tips earlier, rather than risk overcooking them.
Cover you pieces liberally in marinade, either the honey or the Vietnamese, and put them in a zip lock bag in the fridge overnight, or for at least 4 hours.
Once marinaded take your meat out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature, in the meantime, light your coals.
If you're doing the Vietnamese style, remove the Tri-Tip from the bag, and brush on some fresh marinade, it's like a paste in texture, don't be shy, get it well covered.
For the honey glazed version, sprinkle a good pinch of non-iodised salt on either side, then cover liberally in cracked pepper, pressing it into the meat with your hands so it stays put.
By now I've got my Pro Q going nice and hot with a load of Gidgee charcoal, I'm also running a dry water pan, and I want to get the smoker to 300F before getting the meat on.
Now we're at temp, it's time to lock and load...
For this cook, I'm using Australian Peachwood chunks for smoke, once you've tried fruitwoods, you'll never go store bought hickory again!!
30 mins at 300F with lots of smoke, that's the ticket!!
After half an hour, use a watering can to pour some hot / boiling water into your water pan, always try to use hot water as it will keep the temperature more stable in your smoker.
You will now be smoking for around an hour at 225F, keep feeding in the wood chunks!
You're aiming to get the internal temp around the 150F mark, the smaller tips will hit this sooner, so check on them with your meat thermometer.
At temp, and ready for the reverse sear
Once they're ready, take them out and prepare your smoker for direct grilling. With the ProQ, I just break it down to the bottom charcoal section, and give the charcoal a good stoke up to get it nice and hot again. I put a grill plate right over the coals.
Get dem coals hot!
We will now reverse sear our Tri-Tip, give it 2-3 minutes on each side to get your desired level of caramelisation, basting either side as you go.
Once you're happy, carefully pull them off without destroying the bark, and wrap in foil. Let these tasty morsels rest for an hour.
Prepare to serve, slice the Tri-Tip into about 5mm slices and just check out that gorgeous smoke ring, it's a thing of beauty!!
Smoke ring heaven!
I had mine with home made potato salad, hot chips work great too, drizzle with the reserved juices in the foil...
Plated up, with some home made potato salad.
It's also killer cold the next day, shaved and covered with hot sauce…mmmmm