Smoked Beef Tri-Tip Tacos
There is something so appealing about good beef, the aroma, the taste, and the versatility makes it ideal for so many recipes, however there are some things to keep in mind with beef because as wonderful as it is when it is cooked right, it can be just as disappointing when cooked wrong.
How can we make sure the beef we are serving is going to have the best flavor, texture, and aroma? The answer is simple, temperature and cooking technique. You don’t have to be a professional chef or cook to make good beef if you follow a few simple guidelines.
- Make sure you have a good instant read meat thermometer; I use the ChefsTemp Final Touch X10
- Make sure you if you are roasting or smoking that you use a digital cooking thermometer to measure the cooking temperature. I use the Smartro ST54 Digital cooking thermometer.
- Always rest the beef before you slice it, this allows the natural meat juices to return to the center from the outer edge.
Now that we understand how to get accurate temperatures of our beef, it is time to look at the cooking process and today we are smoking a beef Tri-Tip. The Tr-tip, also known as the Santa Maria Tri-Tip is a cut of beef that became popular first in California in the United States, and then as the popularity grew, became a highly sought-after cut of beef for grilling and smoking. It is known to most people outside of the Pacific Northwest and California as a Sirloin Ball Tip Roast. If you go to your local market and ask for Tri-Tip and they have no idea what you are wanting, tell them a Sirloin Ball Tip Roast and they will be glad to help you.
This roast is unique of all the beef roast because the grain of the meat goes in three directions, hence the name Tri-Tip. Every beef carcass has two Tri-Tips, one on each half. It is the tail end of the sirloin, with part of the top round and bottom round connected to it. If it is cut wrong, it is extremely tough and chewy, when cut right, it is fork tender and melts in your mouth. The correct way to slice Tri-Tip is to slice it on a bias across the three grain patterns. If you look at the raw roast you can identify the grain pattern and once it is cooked and rested, then slice it accordingly.
Since we are smoking this Tri-Tip, we should discuss how to smoke it effectively, so it is delicious and tasty. First step is to take the meat out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature or to 70⁰F, while the meat is coming up to temperature, takes about 30 minutes, we need to get our smoker setup and heated up. You will want to have a smoking temperature of 250⁰F and we are only going to smoke/cook this until it reaches approximately 145⁰F. Tri-Tip is best served rare to medium rare, which brings your ideal pull temperature to between 130⁰F-140⁰F. Once you pull the meat, carryover cooking will raise the final temperature another 5⁰F, and the meat will be tender, juicy, and flavorful.
Once you have your smoker heated up, then take your Tri-Tip and season it well and place it in your smoker and insert the probes from your Smartro ST54 Digital Thermometer into the Tri-Tip in the thickest part of the meat, set your probe for 145⁰F, close the door and add wood chips to smoke with. I used mesquite, but you can use any wood you like.
Once we have our meat in the smoker and the door closed, we will monitor our temperature with the Smartro ST54 Digital Thermometer until we reach our desired pull temperature. Once we get to the desired pull temperature, it is important to let this roast rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing it.
When you cook any kind of meat there is a natural process taking place which draws the moisture inside at the center to the outer edges to prevent the meat from burning. The longer you cook meat the more moisture it loses. It is because of this process that we need to monitor the cooking temperature closely and pull the meat at the appropriate temperature so the carry over cooking will continue bringing it up to the final temperature, or serving temperature, and at the same time allow the natural juices to return to the middle of the meat.
I was looking for a nice medium rare, to get the desired result it is necessary to pull the meat 5⁰F below the final temperature. In this case, between 130⁰F-140⁰F so when it cools down, it will reach approximately 135⁰F-145⁰F. Time and temperature are your friends, so monitor them and pull the meat accordingly.
Once the roast has rested for 20 minutes and you have your desired temperature, then it is time to slice the roast and prepare for your final presentation. The meat should still be between a light red and pink at the center, at this temperature, the meat will be tender, juicy, and flavorful, with a slight smoky taste, and when sliced correctly, will be mouthwatering.
Now that we have our meat sliced, it is time to assemble our tacos and get them presented to eat.
Tacos are very popular in the United States and most of Central and South America as well as Mexico. With the influence on American cuisine, it has travelled the world and has become very popular all over the world.
What is in a taco? Meat, vegetables, chilies, onions, cilantro, tomatoes, sauce, cheese, and tortillas, flour or corn. In this recipe I used charred flour tortillas, the char flavor of the tortilla compliments the smoked meat quite well.
How to assemble a taco. First take a warm tortilla and place meat and cheese in the tortilla, then add your vegetables, in this case I added spring mix, topped with shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, and sauced it lightly with Russian Dressing. The smoky sweet flavor of the Russian Dressing really compliments the smokey flavor of the meat and the char of the tortilla perfectly. Then I served them with a side of Pico de Gallo, Sour Cream, and Guacamole.
In summary, get a good cut of beef, make sure you allow it to come up to room temperature before smoking or grilling it, season it well, cook your Tri-Tip and monitor the internal temperature during the cooking process, pull the meat when at the appropriate pull/cook temperature, always let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing to allow carry-over cooking to bring it to final temperature and for the juices to return to the center of the meat.
The Finaltouch X10 thermometer from ChefsTemp gives an accurate reading not only for the inside of food but for surface temperatures as well. The diversity of the thermometer’s usage is second to none compared to other thermometers. By getting a reading within 1 second, the Finaltouch X10 from ChefsTemp is prepared to take on any task it is given.
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