Saturday, October 15, 2011

Smoked Tri Tip

The husband and I were debating what birthday present I should get for my big 30th birthday last month, and we kept going back and forth between a new lens--L glass, drool-- for my camera, or the Weber smoker I'd been wanting for quite awhile. We'd go to BBQs Galore and stare and the smoker, then come home and I'd log into Amazon and oogle the lens. Decisions, decisions.

Well, I'm sure you can figure out what direction I ultimately went, based on the title of this post. The free prime shipping and the allure of smoked meats won beat out the new glass. (Though I still hope to get the lens for Christmas!) The smoker arrived a few days before my birthday, but with all my prior commitments it was a few weeks until we were able to finally smoke some meat. Finally, a Saturday arrived where I was only semi-busy with coaching swim practice, followed by presenting at a literacy conference, and since tri tip takes less than 3 hours to smoke, I had the husband pull out the tri tip on my way home and I lit the charcoal moments after stepping in the door. With the smoker holding steady around 240 degrees, the small cut of meat was ready in just about two hours.

We anxiously waited for the meat to rest once we pulled it off the smoker, and when it was finally time to cut into it, the husband and I kept eating small chunks of meat while I cut it into slices. Each piece was infused with a rich smokey flavor that enhanced it without overpowering the beefy flavor of the meat. We opted to just pour a little bit of BBQ sauce on the side, rather than directly on the tri tip, to allow the meat's natural flavor to take center stage.

Smoked Tri Tip
Source:, The Smoker, and

1 tri tip
garlic salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil

Fill in chimney starter with crumpled newspaper and charcoal. Light the newspaper and let sit, about 20-30 minutes, until the top layer of charcoal starts to turn grey and ashy. I have a Weber Smokey Mountain-- I take the body off the smoker and set the
chimney on the charcoal grate for this step.

Sprinkle the tri tip liberally with the garlic salt and pepper, rubbing the seasonings into the meat.

Once the coals are ready, pour them onto your charcoal grate and re-assemble the body, if necessary. I added about 10 unlit coals at this point, to keep the fire hot throughout the cooking process. Once the smoker reaches 225 degress, add about 3-4 chunks of wood (I used apple) to the top of the coals, and then place the tri tip, fat side up, on the grill. Put the lid on and leave the smoker alone for the next 45 minutes. Be sure to monitor the temperature of the smoker, keeping it in the 225-250 degree range. If it gets too hot, close the bottom vents.

While the meat is smoking, mix the apple cider vinegar and oil in a small spray bottle. Shake it up well and spray it on the meat after about 45 minutes. Spray the meat again every 30 minutes; be sure to do this quickly to prevent too much heat from escaping. You do not need to flip the meat over; the fat will render into the meat, giving it a rich, moist flavor.

Test the meat's temperature after about an hour and 15 minutes; take the meat off the smoker at 130-135 degrees (this will be pink throughout).

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