The Tri-Tip: BBQ & Steak's Love Child
Today's featured cut of beef is something newer those of us in the southeast, but a common menu item on the west coast. You're not likely to find this in the meat section of your grocery store, but trust me, it's worth the visit to the butcher. The Tri-Tip is named due to its triangular shape, cut from the butt loin. A good cut will be marbled a little more than a filet, but a little less than a ribeye.
Restaurants use a few methods to cook it, but the three basic ways are roasted, grilled, or smoked. I like to combine 2 of these methods- smoked and grilled. It brings the smoky, tenderness of BBQ together with the charred, juiciness of a steak. Below are some simple, step-by-step instructions.
Using lump charcoal and your favorite type of wood chunk, let your smoker get up to anywhere between 275-315 degrees. While it's getting up to temperature, coat the Tri-Tip generously with a dry rub. Cooking with indirect heat is important when smoking meat to prevent it from drying out.
Place a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. When it reaches an internal temp of 115-120 degrees, remove your Tri-Tip and let it sit while you prep to sear on your grill. Some people like to sear over an open flame. Others like to sear on cast iron. No matter your searing surface, it needs to be at least 500 degrees so you can get that crispy steakhouse exterior on both sides. It typically takes around 90 seconds to two minutes per side to get the thickest part of the steak up to medium rare, which is 130-135 degrees internal temp.
Those who like the steak rare to medium rare (like me) get to eat from the middle and those who like it a little more done get to eat from the 3 tips. When served this way, Tri-Tip is such a big hit because it can be sliced up so everybody's meat preferences are satisifed.
How you slice the meat is probably the most important step on serving up a perfect Tri-Tip. There are two different meat grains on this cut so you've gotta slice it strategically. As you study the muscle fiber you'll see one half of the meat grain goes horizontally and the other goes vertically. If you don't cut against the grain it will be difficult to chew because you'll be working against the muscle. When slices against the grain, it ensures a tender bite of beef and won't waste all the hard work you've done cooking the Tri-Tip to perfection.
What are you grilling this weekend? Post pics and tag me on instagram or facebook so I can cheer you on!