Linda had purchased some nice tri-tip steaks. Everything I had read recommended a marinade, but I wanted to see just how the smoking process might affect a nice cut of meat without any preparation.
I got the fire up and running. The smoke chamber was at around 200 degrees when I introduced the meat. I really do want a better chamber thermometer, since this one is a small dial with color divisions and really does not provide much information. Anyway, as best I could tell I was starting at 200 degrees or so.
The new digital thermometer is a single probe. I have read of dual probes, but was not aware of them at the time Linda ordered this one. So, I selected a piece of meat in the midst of the others, and inserted the probe. I set the temperature for 165 degrees, as recommended by the thermometer manufacturer.
I maintained the fire by adding charcoal. Again, a mix of lump and biscuit charcoal. My smoke was produced by chunks of mesquite. My estimate based on the volume of meat and the thickness of the cuts was about an hour and thirty minutes to two hours.
After the hour and thirty minutes I found the temperature inside the meat was about 135 degrees. I turned the meat and stoked the fire. After another ten minutes I noticed the temperature was not going up. I added some more charcoal and applied a hair dryer to the air intake. Over the next fifteen minutes I achieved the target temperature and took the meat out.
On the whole, it was good. Not especially good, but good. I found the meat to be adequately juicy, but not especially so. I had done nothing to the meat, and the results were consistent with what I did not do.
In the future, I will definitely do a marinade. If I don't have time for that, I will definitely coat the meat with olive oil, and add salt, pepper, and some spices in a rub. Either of these will add flavor and improve the juiciness. I may also look for a bit more fat in the meat, as this was quite lean. It did prove quite tender, however.
I also plan to find a way to introduce more air at a steady rate. I saw a device made using a computer cooling fan that might just do the trick.
Another practice I will adopt is to light the next batch of coals in my chimney before introducing them to the fire box. I think I was losing some consistency in temperature by introducing cold charcoal to the fire box.
Until I can get some good wood to try charcoal/wood fires I plan to use the chips rather than the chunks. I get better smoke and have more control with the chips.
So, a learning experience, and another good meal. I hope to make the next tri-tip better than good. I want to shoot for fabulous.
Oh, and I really need to make sure I have some beer. For the cook. It is an important ingredient, and would have helped a lot.
I may buy a second thermometer like the one I have to use to monitor the chamber temperature. Together they would cost no more than a dual probe thermometer, especially since I already have the one.
The paint continues to burn off of the outer surface of the smoke box. I may have to get some high temperature paint to protect the outer surface from oxidizing. I may just use the fire bricks I saw in one YouTube video about barbecue in a Silver Smoker. I need to explore modifications that will aid in getting good barbecue consistently.
So far, I am very pleased with what I have learned, and look forward to the next adventure.