Learn how to perfectly cook a tomahawk (and ANY thick cut steak) using a smoke and sear method.
Smoked Tri Tip Steak
Think you couldn’t possibly love steak anymore? Wait until you try it smoked. Check out this recipe for perfectly medium rare Smoked Tri Tip.
Long popular in California, the rest of the country is falling in love with the hindquarter muscle known as the Tri-Tip (or if you wanna be real fancy, tensor fasciae latae). Unlike a brisket which needs many hours of cooking to break down, the tri-tip is best cooked to a medium rare, like a steak. It has a little more chew than traditional steaks like strip or tenderloin, but a whole bunch of flavor.
Triangular in shape (hence the name), the muscle is hefty enough that it also lends itself to being smoked whole. Here’s the part that makes it extra awesome – unlike so many low’n’slow cuts, tri tip can be ready in just about two hours. CUE THE CELEBRATORY ANGEL SONG!
So, where to purchase your meat? Here’s what I always say (in fact, this is lifted straight from a quote I gave Thrillist). “Invest in quality meat. They say you can’t polish a… well, you know the rest. But it rings true. The quality of your meat is relative to the success of your cook. Higher grade meat with more marbling means the cut is going to be more tender and flavorsome, and the presence of more intramuscular fat makes it more forgiving during the cook”. Oh god, I’m the person that just quoted myself… anyway, moving on.
The point is, particularly when you are dealing with rare or medium rare, the quality of the raw beef is directly proportionate to the eating quality of the finished dish. It’s logic, not rocket science. The more marbled the tri tip, the more luxurious the eating experience.
You can use any sort of smoker for this recipe (even a grill that is hacked to put out a little smoke). For low and slow I use my JP Signature Pitts & Spitts offset smoker- I reckon you could fit about 40 tri tips in that thing! I also recommend you get yourself a decent thermometer if you’re going to attempt meat cookery, because internal temp is everything! I use a Smoke device when, well, smoking, which monitors the internal temperature remotely.
But, the MOST important thing you will need to achieve a dark and crusty bark on a piece of meat that only cooks for two hours is Hardcore Carnivore Black seasoning. It’s THE crucial ingredient for that incredible pink/black contrast. You can see here how it makes the tri tip black before it’s even been cooked:
One final pro tip: I like to roll my tri tips extra tight in the foil when resting to force them into more of a cylindrical shape. It gives you nice medallions when slicing rather than thinner strips.
Smoked Tri Tip
- 1 whole tri tip steak (about 2.5 lb)
- 2-3 tablespoons Hardcore Carnivore Black rub
- Heat a smoker to run at 250f.
- Trim the steak of any silverskin/membrane on the surface using a filet knife. This step isn't essential, but here's why you want to do it: unlike fat, which renders during cooking, silverskin doesn't break down, and can result in a chewier bite.
- Pat the meat dry and season with Hardcore Carnivore Black all over. Be sure to use a generous amount of rub and ensure all the surface is coated. Place tri tip into the smoker. If you have one, insert a probe to monitor temperature. If you don't have a probe device, use a meat thermometer to start checking the internal temperature about 45 minutes in.
- Once the internal temp at the thickest part reaches 135-140f, remove the meat from the smoker and wrap tightly in foil or butchers paper. It needs to rest for at least 20 minutes, I prefer resting mine in a warmed cooler for up to an hour.
- After resting, slice against the grain into 1/4" strips and serve immediately.
Want to request a recipe?