Well folks, for this new blog, I thought I would share a BBQ recipe with you. Sure, it's fun to go and try BBQ joints. Someone else does all the hard work of preparing and serving you, and best of all, there's no mess to clean up! Now, I am sure that while we all enjoy eating out every once in a while, you have to agree, there is nothing, and I mean nothing, like preparing it yourself for those you love. Heck, even when I am eating at a BBQ joint, I am constantly critiquing. It is more often than not, nearly as good as what we are used to getting at home. So for this installment, I thought I would start off with something simple, yet delicious. I am talking tri-tip!
The tri-tip is a small triangular muscle cut from the bottom sirloin sub primal cut. It is typically about 2 to 2.5 lbs per side of beef. It was first introduced in the early 1950's and became a local specialty in Santa Maria, California. For that we all owe a big thank you to Otto Schaefer Sr.! Thanks Otto!! Up until that time, the cut was usually used for ground beef or cut into steaks.
Tri-tip is a prime cut that does not need to be cooked low and slow, although you certainly can, and many do with a delicious result. The way I like to prepare it mixes a little bit of Barbecue and a little bit of grilling. (Yeah I know a lot of us think of these terms synonymously, but they're not really the same thing. Hey! That will be a fun blog for another time!) I personally like to prepare it closer to the Santa Maria style, although I do not use an open fire wood pit to cook it, and don't always use Red Oak for the smoke flavor. I actually use a Weber 26" kettle. I have used my WSM Smoker, but I enjoy the result from the kettle a little more.
Ok, enough of all that! Let's get cooking!! First thing, finding that perfect tri-tip! I like to go to Costco for most of my meat for my outdoor cooking adventures. You can also go to Sam's Club, any supermarket, or your local butcher. I try to get Prime or even will settle for Choice when selecting cuts of meat. You won't get the same result using Select, which is a lower grade, as while it is sold retail due to acceptable quality, it is less juicy and tender because it lacks fat marbling. Again, another subject for another day. Did I mention I was an S.O.B? Son of a Butcher? Of course, you can use Select if you wish. My suggestions are my tastes, and it is my blog after all! Everybody's tastes are different, and I love you all the same! Now you have your tri-tip, time to start your barbecue grill.
First thing I do is prepare the Weber Kettle and place 4 small wood chunks along the back edge of the charcoal grate evenly spaced. I much prefer chunks to chips, but if you like to use chips, be sure to soak them for 30 minutes prior to placing them in your smoker pouch or store bought smoker box. (You can use aluminum foil to create a pouch. Place a handful of the soaked wood chips in a pouch and cut several slits in the pouch approximately 2 inches long. When you place your lit coals or start your fire in your gas grill, just place the pouch, slit side up, on top of the coals or over the burner.) I Fill my Weber Chimney with standard white and blue bag Kingsford briquettes. Again, that is my preference, and I have tried every brand and type of charcoal from lump to competition. For me, nothing beats the standard blue and white bag. Much more predictable and even cooking. (You can use your gas grill if you would like).
I light the chimney with Weber Starter Cubes. Never, never, never use lighter fluid, unless you like the taste of lighter fluid. Yes, you can taste it. (You can use crumpled newspaper in a clinch. Just be careful that it is not a windy day as you will get floating ash with the burning paper). Yeah, I know. You're probably noticing a pattern here. Yes, I am guilty as charged. My name is Casey and I am a Weberaholic! I looked into many others, and discovered that I got a great product at a reasonable price, and believe me, Weber knows outdoor cooking! Again, whatever your preference, it will work fine as long as you know how to use it.
While waiting for the coals to be ready, I place a light coating of olive oil (Good olive oil. Not just any store bought Olive Oil. No, they are not all the same. Don't get me started! That is another blog for another day. That's all I have to say about that!) and start seasoning my tri-tip. I place a medium layer of 4 simple spices in the following order: Course Kosher or Sea Salt; Course, or freshly ground Black Pepper; Granulated Garlic; and Granulated Onion. Sometimes I place a light layer of chipotle powder if I am in the mood for a kick. Come on, we all need a kick every once in a while! You can experiment of course.
I like my beef with savory spices. Sweet is more for pork in my opinion, as pork lends itself better to a sweet edge. However, Porky Pig will have to a-bd-a-bd-a-bd-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-wait his t-t-t-t-t-turn! (Sorry. Impressions are a hazard if you're reading my blog). You will actually notice that one tri-tip in the photos looks a little darker than the other in the picture. That is because I was "experimenting" by using Montreal Steak Seasoning by Grill Mates. Yeah......it didn't pay off to go the lazy route.......but I do encourage experimentation. Now let it rest and soak up some of the spices. Back to the barbecue!
Once the coals are lit (takes about 20 minutes) I pour them out on one side of the grill right over the wood chunks. Here is where you would place your wood chip pouch full of your soaked wood chips on top of the lit coals. When using wood to smoke your food, start with smaller amounts and don't replenish the first time you try this. If you decide you like more smoke flavor, you can incrementally increase each time you barbecue until you find your desired smokiness. If you place too much (a common mistake for beginners) the meat will be acrid and have an unpleasant flavor that no one will like, and will scare you away from trying it again. Believe me, that is putting it mildly! Remember the old adage, "Less is more". I Cover the cue and then I close the bottom and top vents about half way to get it to the right temperature, which is about 350 degrees. Takes about 10 minutes.
Time to remove the cover and place your tri-tip on the grill. The grill that you have either coated with Olive Oil, or sprayed with Pam. Don't spray it over the fire of course! Remove the cooking grate and hold it in the air over the dirt or grass when using an aerosol spray. If using Olive Oil, I'll let you in on a little trick. Put about a 1/4 cup of Olive Oil in a bowl, cut an onion in half and take a Barbecue fork to stab the onion on the up side. Now take the onion and dip the cut side in the Olive Oil and rub on the grilling grate. Now we're cooking!! Place the tri-tip on the side of the cooking grate opposite the coals, NOT over the coals. This is called the indirect method, as opposed to right over the coals which is the direct method. At this point, we are BARBECUING and NOT grilling....yet.
Close the lid with the vent holes over the meat and not the heat source. This creates convection. Now let it go for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. You will find this may vary a little from cooker to cooker. Resist the temptation to take off the lid to see how beautiful your tri-tip looks. This will slow down the cooking process at least 10 to 15 minutes every time you do this. At 30 minutes, remove the lid to turn the tri-tip over and replace the lid. Take that opportunity to check the internal temperature of your meat. I use a Thermopen, which my wife refers to as the other woman. I know that sounds absurd, but I have to admit she has caught me admiring my Thermopen too often! It will probably show an internal temperature of about 110 to 120 degrees at this point. You are ultimately looking for an internal temperature of 120 degrees before we start the next phase. You are looking for an internal temperature of 130 to 135 degrees for medium rare. (That is my preference.) Cover it and let it go for another 15 minutes. Remove the lid and check the temp. Repeat as necessary until you reach your level of doneness.
Now, this is where I sear my tri-tip. Many will tell you to sear it first, but don't listen, searing after will serve you better, as you will allow the smoke to penetrate the meat and seal in all the flavor at the end and create a delicious outer bark rather than sealing at the beginning and blocking the ability of the meat to soak in that beautiful smoke. Remove the lid, and using your tongs, place your tri-tip right over the hot coals or burner. Giving it about a minute and a half per side, all the while letting the flames lick the outside of the tri-tip.
Remove the tri-tip when done to your satisfaction, and cover with aluminum foil for about 10 minutes. This is why I go for an internal temperature of 120 degrees, as the meat actually continues to cook during the resting process, bringing it up to the 130 to 135 degree mark. Then uncover, cut the tri-tip against the grain at about 1/4" to 1/2" inch thickness, and serve.
I usually serve it with a horseradish sauce that I make that we really like. Here is the recipe: 3/4 cup Sour Cream, 2 Tbs prepared horseradish, 2 Tbs finely chopped fresh Italian Parsley or dried Parsley, 2 tsp Dijon Mustard, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp course Kosher or Sea salt, 1/4 tsp course black pepper. Mix thoroughly and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. I usually do this while the tri-tip is cooking. Voila'!!! A meal fit for your loved ones.
Now stand back and take a bow, because the adoration has just begun! You have just shown your love through your Barbecue. That is why I always say Barbecue is Love, and we all need Love!! Enjoy!!
Your Humble Blogger,