Smoked Tri-Tip

Several years ago while living in Columbus, OH, we had a tradition called “Smokin Sundays”.  We would get together with friends, throw some type of meat on the smoker and drink wine until it was done, then drink more wine while we ate it.  It was always a great time, until Monday morning came around…

Some of those Columbus friends introduced me to a cut of beef called the Tri-Tip roast.  It is a triangle shaped piece of beef that you find at the bottom of the sirloin and usually weighs 1 to 2 pounds.  It is lean, tender and very flavorful.  The secret is to not overcook it since it can become dry and tough.  This is especially challenging because the “pointy” end is much smaller than the other end, so it is a balance to get both sides to an acceptable “doneness”.  But with a little seasoning or marinade and a quick flash on the grill, it is outstanding!

The Tri-Tip roasts cannot be found everywhere just yet, though as they become more popular they are beginning to show up in more grocery stores.  It is best to ask your butcher for one.  I have been finding them regularly at some Whole Foods markets here in Maryland.  They are also less expensive than many cuts of meat (usually just a little higher than a flank steak).

I was curious to see how a Tri-Tip roast would do with a slow smoking treatment, so I  decided to re-start the “Smokin Sunday” tradition here in Maryland, and smoke a Tri-Tip roast.  To pair with the smoked Tri-Tip, I wanted something cool like a simple potato salad and of course some wine.

Smoked Tri-Tip Roast

First, I started preparing the smoker.  I pulled out some maple wood chips and soaked them in water for about an hour.  I filled the smoker bowl with water and added about 3 large sprigs of rosemary.  Then I started the smoker (I have an electric smoker) and let it warm up for about an hour so the chips would begin to smoke.

I used a 2 lb Tri-Tip roast and rubbed it all over with olive oil.  Next, I coated the roast with San Juan Sazon spice blend from Urban Accents.

If you haven’t tried the Urban Accents spice blends, you should, they are amazing.  They have great flavor combinations and most blends do not include salt.  (I highly recommend the Bayou Barbeque on a ribeye steak!)  Here is the link to Urban Accents:

Anyway, the San Juan Sazon blend has a nice blend of sweetness and heat, with sugar, paprika, and turmeric, so I think it works well on smoked meats.

I let the meat sit for about an hour with the spice blend on it, then placed it on the smoker.  It took about 2.5 hours until the meat registered 130 degrees (medium rare) on a meat thermometer.  I pulled the meat off the smoker, tented it with some foil and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  Then I sliced it.



Potato Salad with Cilantro

While the meat was smoking, I prepared a simple potato salad.  I peeled about 6 Yukon Gold potatoes and cut them into 1/2 inch cubes.

I placed the potato cubes in a microwave safe dish, added a Teaspoon of water, some salt and pepper.  Then I covered it and cooked the potatoes in the microwave on High for about 10 minutes total, stopping every 3 minutes to stir the potatoes.  Once the potatoes were done, I drained them and let them cool.

I diced 1 small sweet onion  and added it to the potato mixture.

Next I took about 3/4 of a bunch of cilantro and stripped the leaves from the stems.  I minced the cilantro leaves and added them to the potato mixture.

I stirred about a cup of mayonnaise into the potatoes and mixed it in.  Everyone’s taste for mayo is different, so I usually add a little and mix it up, then try the potato salad.  I keep doing this until it tastes good to me.  I added a little more salt and pepper, covered it and put in the refrigerator until the meat was done.  I pulled it out when the meat came off the smoker so that it would warm up before serving.



Since the meat was smoked, I wanted a wine that had some “smokiness” to it.  You usually get that from the wine being aged in charred oak barrels.  The amount of smokiness depends upon the type of barrel and the level of “toast” on the barrel (how much it was charred before use).  I also wanted a wine that would pair well with the spiciness of the seasoning on the meat.  So I picked a Syrah.  Syrah wines have a spiciness to them and are usually sturdy enough to stand up to very flavorful food.  I picked a 2005 DuMol Syrah from Russian River.

The Verdict

The whole meal was just fantastic.  The meat had a wonderful sweet, smoky flavor with a little spiciness.  It paired really well with the wine too.  The potato salad offered a nice contrast to the meat.  I had never made potato salad with cilantro before, but I really like cilantro and it made the potato salad a little different.  It also helped it stand up to the strong flavors of the meat.  Overall a great meal and a wonderful way to restart Smokin Sundays.

Try out a Tri-Tip roast on the grill or a smoker and definitely check out the Urban Accents spice blends.  Let me know how it goes.




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