At Jake's Famous we'd often wonder about the many cooking methods and ways of making Tri Tip. I knew basically, that Tri-Tip could be smoked, roasted or grilled until medium or medium well then turned into some of the best tasting meat possible. And with living on the Central Coast of California we are all familiar with the much regaled Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip Roast. For those who don't know that's when seasoned Tri-Tip is seared and roasted over large barbecue grates then pulled off about medium rare and served with large slices of garlic bread and pinquito beans. Makes me hungry just thinking about it.
But with the Brisket being such a large part of the current barbecue scene we thought we'd take a look at making a Faux brisket (tri tip brisket style) or in other words, smoke a tri-tip like a brisket. Now we don't have to tell you that it's literally impossible to get a small sized brisket. But if you have access to an old fashioned butcher location then you may be able to get your hands on a Brisket point or flat which shouldn't be too much for one person. The other side of the equation is the cost of Brisket. Brisket is not a cheap item and if you're not familiar with the barbecue or cooking process you could end up with about 10 pounds of completely worthless, tough meat.
Making Tri-Tip Brisket Style
That's about the time I thought what if you could make a Tri Tip just like a brisket or what is called a Faux Brisket (a smoked tri-tip, a tri-tip brisket or just tri tip brisket style). Essentially they are both beef and come somewhat near to each other on the animal. But unlike Brisket, Tri Tip doesn't have the high collagen content which is why it does so well after two on three hours on the grill. And that's why the best Tri-Tip cooking results come when the meat is barbecued to about medium well. The meat ends up just juicy enough but also tender enough for sandwiches or main table dishes.
So, if we were really serious about grilling or barbecuing a Tri Tip like a Brisket or more aptly making a smoked tri tip what then would we need to do? Having worked through this process many times before with steaks that were not exactly top of the line it became obvious....tenderizing is required.
I've spent considerable time working with various marinades to break down meat tissues towards making steaks and roasts more tender. A really simple combination I've been working with lately has been a citrus blend of Guava and Apple Juice. Guava alone is an excellent marinade and certainly apple has been known for many years to have excellent marinating properties. So rather than placing the meat in a container then following up by submerging the meat I thought we would focus injection. We've been using injection for the last year or so and have been able to capture some pretty decent results. So, we'll start by blending our marinade in a 70/30 mixture of Guava to Apple Juice. I find that when there is more Guava in the blend than Apple Juice the results tend to improve in flavor as well as shortened time for marination.
Now with our 70/30 marinade blend we'll inject that along three grids of the tri-tip about 1 inch apart. We want to inject somewhere near the middle of the tri-tip leaving about and ounce of the marinade in each injection. We won't need to turn the tri-tip over but instead will inject the upper facing side.
Trimming the tri-tip is not as necessary as the standard Santa Maria process. We will keep most of the fat cap on the bottom of the tri-tip. You can trim off just enough to give yourself a clean surface area. But make sure you don't take off any more than 1/3 of the available fat cap. We keep the fat cap to aid in the retention of moisture. As mentioned earlier Tri Tip doesn't have the same level of collagen as Brisket so to return moisture we'll use the fat cap as sort of a guard as we'll be indirectly roasting the tri-tip on the cap. It's also a good time to think about seasoning the tri-tip with your favorite dry rub. We like using Jake's Famous Pure Santa Maria Dry Rub. You may have your own homemade version or store bought favorite. For those who don't we've added in a link at the bottom of this post to help you get the dry rub you want.
Now with the tri tip injected and with limited trimming you'll want to allow the marinade to do it's job. Let's place the meat in a sealing container. Allow the marinade to work on the tri-tip for a minimum of 4 hours, more if you can allow it to rest. In fact if you can marinate the tri-tip overnight that would even be better. It shouldn't have to be said but let's say it anyway...make sure the meat is refrigerated during the marinating process.
Now comes the setup process to begin smoking the tri-tip to turn it into the faux brisket that you desire. What's important here is the temperature and time available. Also, the type of wood that should be used during the smoking process. So many people now have those completely electronic smoking systems that can be adjusted or dialed in right to the temperature they want. It kinda takes the fun out of the process but it does deliver even results. Now if you're an Old School griller like me then you'll need to begin arranging your charcoal for a long cook cycle. Expect that this process will take about 7 hours. You can expect about 1-1/2 hours per pound of meat so if you have a 3 pound Tri Tip then you'll be grilling for about 4-1/2 hours not including the resting time of an additional 1 hour for a total of 5 hours. But this process will also require some adjusting and use of foil so that additional time will put you closer to 5-1/2 hours depending on the heat produced by the grill and the outside temperature.
Now if using charcoal heat you'll need at least an hour to get your desired cooking temperature dialed in. We like using the Snake Method which lays out two or three briquettes next to each other in a ring that follows around the grill. We can pretty much get to the cooking temperature with this method. Now for charcoal, or gas, or pellet systems we'll want to dial in a cook temperature of 225 degrees. Pellet smokers already have their smoking woods as part of the cooking process. For gas grill adding smoke may be a bit tougher but there are smoke boxes you can buy or if you have a small metal pie pan you can add smoking chips to the pan and place them on the grill over a low burner which will start the smoke process. Keep an eye on the smoke chips to ensure that they burn normally. For those with charcoal add wood chips along side the briquettes. As the briquettes burn we'll want the lit charcoals to ignite the wood chips. Since dry chips will raise the temperature of a charcoal grill in an unbalanced way I suggest you soak the wood chips for at least an hour before use. Soak the chips in water which will slow down the burning process and will allow a nicer pattern of wood smoke.
Wood types we like to use for this Faux Brisket are Red Oak, Cherry Wood, Hickory and Mesquite.
We find that Red Oak works best as it pairs nicely with the flavors of the meat. The other woods will also deliver a nice level of smoke so it's really up to you to decide.
Time for the meat. About 30 minutes before putting the meat on the grill pull it out of the fridge and let rest on the kitchen counter. This will warm up the meat and will require less heat energy to drive the meat to the desired cooking temperature.
Place the meat on the grill opposite the primary flame no matter if you're using gas, pellet or charcoal we'll be focusing on indirect grilling. If you have an electronic thermometer insert the probe now. Place the lid on the grill with the vents either over the meat or as near to the meat as possible. Ensure that the grill vents are wide open on the top and bottom of the grill.
After about 30 minutes monitor the temperature of the grill. Either through your readable thermometer or a manual thermometer we want to be as close to the 225 to 250 degree range as possible. Resist removing the barbecue lid if at all possible. Each time the lid is removed you will lose all that stored heat and essentially you restart the cooking process which takes time driving the finish process from 5 to 7 hours.
We'll be using the 3-2-1 method with our Faux Brisket. After 3 hours we'll take the brisket off the grill and will double wrap it in two sheets of aluminum foil. Heat tip: After the meat is removed make sure you place the lid back on the grill. When we bring the meat back we'll want to be as close to the cooking temperature as possible. As for the aluminum foil we use aluminum foil because the wrap process will produce excess moisture. If you were to use Butcher paper the paper would become completely soaked and would tear through with movement. Leaking from the butcher paper would actually put out your charcoals so let's wrap in aluminum foil and the same goes for gas or pellet grills.
When wrapping let's add about 3/4 cup of beef broth with a sliced apple around the tri-tip. Now carefully wrap the tri-tip and place it back on the grill. Insert your temperature probe through the aluminum foil into the meat. Get the lid closed as soon as possible and begin reading the temperature measurements once the heat has been restored which usually takes about 8-10 minutes for a charcoal grill. If the temperature is closer to 250 degrees that's fine we've got the layers of aluminum foil to act as a barrier to excessive heat. But keep an eye on the heat to make sure it doesn't get over 275 degrees, if so then start adjusting the airflow on the bottom vent first. Monitor the bottom vent checking in 5 minute intervals to see if your manual adjustments have had the desired effect and if so by how much. If you notice the temperature drops quickly by 10 degrees or more then adjust the vent open by one quarter open to get more air in.
After 1-1/2 hours start paying close attention to the meat. We want the internal temperature to reach 203 degrees. Once reached remove the meat in foil into a pan or dish. Place the meat in foil in the oven and let rest for a minimum 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes remove the Tri-Tip and open the foil. You'll immediately notice at least three times the amount of liquid surrounding the tri-tip. This is moisture loss and also moisture transfer from the apples and the added marinade liquid. Place the meat on a cutting board and make two cuts across the differing grained sections of the tri-tip to produce three individual sections of tri-tip. Now cut directly across the grain or as we say perpendicular to the grain to produce 1/4 inch segments of sliced meat.
Right away you'll notice just how tender and juicy the tri-tip will be. The cooked meat has magically taken on the appearance of Brisket. The resulting taste and chew is eerily similar to that of Brisket. And with the addition the Guava and Apple marinade the meat has a really fresh taste. The end result a wonderful taste treat the easily comes within 95% of the texture of brisket at about 20% of the cost of brisket.
To get you on your way to making this wonderful treat I've added in a couple of our seasoning blends that we use when making tri-tip and our Faux Brisket. We add the seasoning onto the meat and allow it to rest for about an hour or more before the marinade and grilling process. To help you get a leg up on the process we're offering a 10% discount on these and all of our other products. Use code: 1707200910 at checkout to take your discount now.
When properly paired with wood smoke a dry rub can impart a sense of luxury and extravagance to the meat. We've paired our best dry rubs with some key wood types to help you in your decision making. See our listing below as a guide.
Tri Tip Steak and Rib Rub (Almond, Red Oak, Cherry, Peach, Plum, Maple)
Santa Maria Dry Rub (Almond, Peach, Red Oak, Mesquite, Hickory, Lemon)
California Chicken Dry Rub (Almond, Red Oak, Mesquite, Cherry, Apple, Grapevine, Maple, Mulberry)
Of course these dry rubs are designed to impart just the right amount of flavor to tri-tip brisket style. But the real test is in the results you will receive.
We've added in a Faux Brisket video from Go Outside And Cook until we get ours into the hopper. See below:
Faux Brisket Video
Jake's Famous Foods
Many have asked us about using grill vents and so you can get information now on how to use your grill vents to make delicious barbecue.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 23 August, 2018.