Despite its status as a lesser-known butchers cut, the tenderness and beefy flavor of tri-tip have made it a favorite in our home. The seductive aroma of vaporized red wine mixed with smoldering oak make cooking my Wine Barrel Oak Smoked Beef Tri-Tip almost as enjoyable as eating it.
Oak Smoked Tri-Tip: An Authentic Wine Country Steakhouse Experience🍷🥩
Hands down the best aspect of ketogenic diets is that they feel, well, so… luxurious. Aren’t diets supposed to be about deprivation and guilt? Personally, I don’t feel like I have ever eaten better or been as satisfied after meals as I am now.
My absolute favorite luxury keto meal is a fatty, tender grilled cut of beef with a big red wine. I still have trouble getting over that both are in-bounds for this way of eating, so long as the wine is made in a dry (not sweet) style.
We love touring the vast wine country areas of California and always come home with enough wine to overfill out home wine fridge. We came back with something additional this time, though — wine soaked wood staves from used barrels. I thought they would be perfect for smoke roasting some delicious prime grade beef at home.
Tri-tip roasts are the quintessential California wine country steakhouse cut of beef, and so that is what I went with here. I also go with them when we are having a gathering of a moderate size at our house. Their triangular, tapered shape produces meat doneness across the entire range, keeping all your guests happy.
I made sure to get the heat extremely low before I threw on the wine-soaked barrel staves so that they would smolder but not immediately ignite. I was rewarded with a beautiful aroma of gently vaporized wine and smoldering oak as I enjoyed my glass of wine.
What Is Smoke Roasting? 💨
Smoke roasting is my preferred method any time I am doing outdoor live fire cooking, such as grilling. If I’m going to go through the trouble to cook outdoors, call me crazy but I actually want it to smell rustic and outdoorsy.
Smoke roasting is a process of slow (but not long) cooking of a more tender piece of meat to impart intense smoke flavor, but not overcook the meat. It is almost always coupled with a short resting phase after the smoke before a sear to finish the cut. This final sear gives a more golden brown and crisp exterior and grill marks should you desire them.
It differs from conventional long smoking that we would do with say, a brisket, by its shorter time and not being to break down a tough cut with extremely long application of low heat. We only want the smoke in this case as the meat is already tender enough.
It differs from the reverse sear process in that there is substantial application of supplementary smoking wood. It also doesn’t always really require a sear afterward.
With Lump Charcoal, Worse Is Better 🔥
I recently took a trip to Costco and passed the ceramic kamado cooker roadshow sale display only to be assaulted by a sales pitch for a jumbo $2,000 kamado cooker and accessorized designer charcoal. Now, I’m a BBQ junkie. I have no problem at all with a $2,000 smoker. The designer charcoal with a premium price to match is always elicits a eyeroll from me as I meander with my two boys towards the meat section to get my USDA Prime tri-tip.
Here’s the secret, which those of you who have read my Smoke Roasted Ribeye or Argentine Short Ribs posts already know. Cheaper lump charcoal just supplies a superior experience, not to mention being easier on your wallet. With Lump Charcoal, worse is better.
So, what makes it superior? It just has more personality and smells like something beyond just burning. Some of the character of the original wood is still in there. It’s not just shitty charcoal.
It has a little bit of a story left to tell. It sparks, moans, and complains while it struggles to light. Live fire cooking of all types is deeply meditative to me and I enjoy the entire experience. You should, too.
A Recommendation On Leave-In Meat Thermometers 🌡
A good indoor/outdoor leave-in meat thermometer is important equipment if you are going to do a lot of cooking with thick cuts of meat like tri-tip. You simply can’t rely on the softness “touch test” to determine doneness reliably. How “medium rare” feels from the outside can vary a lot from one cow to the next.
My recommendation is one that comes from experience with it myself. I have owned a Maverick ET-733 for a number of years now. It also checks all the boxes on required features I list below.
I would resist paying a premium for a lot of gee-whiz features like Bluetooth, phone apps, and the like.
What’s Really Important In A Leave-In Meat Thermometer:
- Dual Probes – It’s incredibly convenient to be able to monitor the internal temperature of the meat and the ambient temperature of the smoker/grill simultaneously.
- Wireless – Having two little boys has taught me to appreciate the joys of multi-tasking. Gone are the days where I could babysit a smoker all day on a weekend. This will let you monitor your cooker while carrying on with your life.
- High/Low Temperature Alarms – This allows you to monitor conditions in the cooker while you do other things, such as sleep. It has saved me from failed cooks a number of times when my propane ran out overnight.
- Water Resistant – We’re cooking outdoors, after all. My Maverick ET-733 is not billed as “water resistant”, but I have had it survive getting rained on lightly a number of times. That plus an upside down plastic bucket sheltering it is enough for me.
- Replacement Probe Availability – Be sure you will be able to replace probes as they wear out and fail. I have been through a number of sets with my unit.
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Wine Barrel Oak Smoked Beef Tri-Tip🍷🥩🔥
Despite its status as a lesser-known butchers cut, the tenderness and beefy flavor of tri-tip have made it a favorite in our home. We especially like it for the holidays and celebrations involving guests who have varying tastes in beef doneness. The triangular shape of the roast yields cuts at all level of doneness. There is something for everyone here.
- 2 roasts beef tri-tip (This will be 5-6 lbs.)
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- lump charcoal
- wine barrel staves (Chunks and chips are also ok.)
- charcoal grill
- 2 locking bbq tongs (One is for raw meat, one is for cooked.)
- 2 trays (One is for raw meat, one is for cooked.)
- instant read thermometer
- wireless leave-in meat thermometer
Light your charcoal and set your grill up for indirect cooking. This means all the coals banked to one side, and the meat on the other.
Evacuate the tri-tips to a plate to let them cool a bit while you remove the lid on the grill, open the intake vent wide, and let the rush of oxygen to the fire heat up the coals. This is the point where you want to add more if you are getting low. Make sure they are lit before you proceed.
Sear the tri-tips on both sides until golden brown and delicious. Keep an eye on the internal temperature in the center of the steaks with an instant read thermometer.
Remove the tri-tips to a clean tray and let rest until ready to serve.