Thursday, May 18, 2023

'Who Want Smoke': A Tri-Tip Tale

My Tri Tip with a visible, prominent smoke ring.

I recently received a new toy to add to my culinary arsenal and I'm in Love.  An Austin XL by Pit Boss is quite a treat!  My first conquest was a Black Angus Tri Tip Roast, which I'd read is a good safe protein to begin with on your Smoker. 
A Tri Tip Roast, named for its shape with a tapered tip, is a triangular cut of meat from the bottom of the sirloin, a subprime portion.  The scientific name for this is the tensor fasciae latae muscle, a part of the thigh.   This cut is sometimes confused with the brisket or "picanha, a Brazilian term (a cut that comes from the top of the cow's butt) boasting an amazing fat cap, which helps the protein retain its succulence and unctuousness.
Tri-tip started gaining its notoriety in Southern California as early as 1915,  thusly calling it the California Cut. Other nomenclature includes Bottom Sirloin Butt, Newport Steak, Poor Man's Brisket and the Santa Maria.  At first, the tri-tip was used to make ground beef.  As the story goes, a man by the name of Bob Shutz had a hand in bringing this little known cut to the forefront.   Instead of grinding it, he prepared this meat in a low oven until Medium Rare( about 45 minutes) and found it to be a quite tender and full of flavor.  From then on, he served this cut and other proximal restaurants followed. 
 It was especially favored among Military soldiers, who facilitated its popularity, thanks to a fellow named Ron (Rondo) Brough.  Brough was a butcher in the US Army during WWII, whose goal was to establish more portions for the troops, by re-orienting cuts and eliminating scraps.  Around the same time, an Oakland, California man by the name of Otto Shaefer Sr. named it "tri-tip" and it stuck.  
An important note about the Tri-tip is that there are two grain patterns on this cut, so it is optimal to cut the protein in half where the grains intersect, then slice individually.  This allows for premium servings of the tender and delicious roast to be enjoyed most fully.  
The tri-tip is known in other countries by a host of labels; In France, it is called Auguillette boronne, Northern Germany call it Burgermeisterstuck or Pastorenstuck.  Austria refers to the tri-tip as Huferchwanz, while Southern Germany uses the same name as Bavaria,  Tafelspitz, where its boiled with horseradish.  Spain grills it whole and it goes by Rabillo de Cadera, while Argentina has Asado Colita de Cuadril and Brazil Maminha.  Any way you slice it, Tri Tip has truly earned its place in our culinary stories.  
With a little history of the Tri-Tip roast behind us, we can get back to cooking and talking about the one I picked up to Christen my Pit Boss Austin XL.  
After marinating my protein for several hours,  I placed it on the grill, preheated to 375* for the first 10 minutes.  After that, I reduced the heat to 325* for another 35 minutes or so, basting with a combination of soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and a scant amount of water.  After the temperature reached 145*F on the probe reader, I wrapped it in some butcher paper and set it off the heat to rest, with a couple pats of cultured butter on top.  
I initially planned to use "Boss Hogg" (yeah, I named my grill) for smoking our turkey this past year.  This did not come to fruition, but I did get to smoke some amazing chicken parts, that marinated for a couple of hours, to a creation of a blissful, smoky entree.  I've also added whole chickens, burgers, 'dogs, smoked sausages and ribs.   All these items were memorable and distinct in flavor.  I used a combination competition  pellet, composed of both Charcoal and Hickory, for a deliciously complex flavor profile.