Friday, November 1, 2013

Reverse Seared Tri Tip and Thermoworks New ChefAlarm

We are relatively new to beef tri-tip but we have quickly grown to love this West coast favorite.  It has a rich beefy taste like ribeye or top sirloin but the soft texture of a tenderloin.

Just a few years ago, it was difficult to buy beef tri-tip East of the Mississippi.  But now I can find them in Knoxville at Kroger, Costco, and Ingles.  If you are an Easterner who has never had tri-tip, I am telling you, you NEED to try one.  The roast is about 2 to 2 1/2 lbs and is shaped like a boomerang, it's hard to miss.  If the meat counter doesn't have them, you can always ask your butcher for cut#  NAMP 185D.  It's worth the hassle.

We picked one up on a whim recently and I wanted to try something new for us with tri-tip - an injection.  Tri-tip is delicious with just salt, pepper, and garlic but it also has a good flavor that stands up to other vibrant flavors.  Normally I don't pair beef with sweet rubs or sauces.  But my injection was cherry juice, beef base, and worcestershire sauce and the flavors actually worked together quite nicely.

Reverse seared tri-tip, beef roast, big green egg beef recipe, grill dome beef recipe,

Reverse Seared Tri-Tip

  • 1 beef tri-tip roast
  • 1.5 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1.5 Tbsp Tone's Garlic Pepper Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup cherry juice (100% juice, not a blend or punch)
  • 3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp beef base (stock concentrate for soups and stuff)

  1. Set up your grill for indirect heat and preheat it to 250f.
  2. Mix together the cherry juice, Worcestershire sauce, and beef base until the beef base is thoroughly dissolved.   Inject this solution into the roast using a meat syringe.  [Tips for injecting meat]
  3. Season the roast with the salt and Garlic Pepper Seasoning.
  4. Cook the roast via indirect heat until it reaches a few degrees shy of your target internal temperature.  For example, I wanted medium-rare (130-135f) so I took the roast off when it reached 127f.    It will rise some while you change your grill.
  5. Change your grill to direct cooking (over coals) and bring the temperature up to 500f or more.
  6. Grill the roast 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side to get a light char on the exterior.  
  7. Remove from grill and let rest for 5 minutes.  To serve, slice against the grain in 1/2 inch pieces.  
There wasn't much to trim off of the roast.  You can buy cheap plastic meat syringes but they don't last.  For the house I recommend and use one like this.   For large batches of injecting (catering, restaurant, etc)  there are commercial units available.

Injecting beef tri-tip, Reverse seared tri-tip, beef roast, big green egg beef recipe, grill dome beef recipe,

Reverse seared tri-tip, beef roast, big green egg beef recipe, grill dome beef recipe,
On the grill for the slow roast period.  There is a plate setter under the grate for an indirect cook.

Thermoworks ChefAlarm remote probe thermometer

It took exactly 42 minutes to reach my target temp of 127f.   While I changed out my grill and the roast rested, the temperature peaked at 133f which is exactly where I wanted it to be.

Next I seared the roast over a 550f fire for 90 seconds a side.  This just puts a crust on the exterior and should not raise the roast temperature much. 

 A quick check with my Thermapen confirms the roast is still only 133f even after the final searing.

Reverse seared tri-tip, beef roast, big green egg beef recipe, grill dome beef recipe,

kamado grilled tri-tip, how to grill tri-tip beef roast

I was going to make a pan sauce for the beef but it was so good and tender, I decided to skip the sauce.  We served it with fresh made creamed spinach and baked potatoes for a simple but fantastic meal.  

I've used and written about the reverse sear method for some time and my opinion of the technique just gets more impressive every time.   It is my favorite way to cook roasts, thick chops and thick steaks.   To do the reverse sear technique you really need an accurate and fast remote probe thermometer.   The one you have seen in this post is one I received to test from the folks at Thermoworks.

Thermoworks ChefAlarm
Thermoworks is the company that makes the Thermapen, generally regarded as the gold standard for instant read food thermometers.  They are know for accuracy, speed, and quality.  Thermoworks has come out with a new commercial duty remote probe thermometer - the ChefAlarm

Thermoworks Chef Alarm Review
Shown with the additional Pro-Series Needle Probe

The ChefAlarm has a sturdy, rugged feel - much like a mobile phone feels in an OtterBox.    You can see it has a stylish appearance and like the Thermapen, you can pick from a rainbow of colors.  It comes with the ChefAlarm, a Pro-Series Probe, probe pot clip, and the zippered hard case to hold it and all your accessories.

remote probe from thermapen

Over the past month I have used the ChefAlarm in a variety of situations and cookers.  I have used it in my Eggs, the Pit Barrel Cooker, our charcoal grill, and the Warthog.  We have used it for hot and fast, low and slow, and reverse searing.  I even used the ChefAlarm in the oven when I made steak au poivre.   

It's simple and functional design made it very intuitive.  After a month of use, I still haven't even looked at the instructions, it was that easy to figure out.  

Thermoworks Chef Alarm Review

Here are just a few of the features that I like about the new ChefAlarm:
  • Large LCD display - I can see the temps from several feet away.
  • Min/Max Temp - it displays your high and low food temp spikes 
  • Low Temp Alarm - This setting will sound an alarm when you reach a descending temperature target, such as doing yogurt or ice cream.  I haven't seen that feature on similar devices.
  • User calibration - it comes calibrated +/- 1.8f from the factory but you can fine tune it yourself
  • Pro-Series Temp Probes - these are immersible in water, such as sous vide or brining.  That would ruin all of the temp probes I have used before.  They also have a wide operating range from -58f to 572f
  • Back lighted display is visible in the dark
  • Long battery life
I also like that it can either be straight and flat like this:

Or be in an upright position like this:

The folks at Thermoworks are professionals and test their equipment in commercial environments so they include small details that make a big difference like the magnets on the back of the unit.  They help hold it in place on oven fronts or metal smokers. 

The ChefAlarm works with any of the Thermoworks Pro-Series Temperature Probes

Temp probes right to left:  12" probe (great for candymaking or monitoring liquids in pots), air probe (for monitoring your cooker air temps), high temp cooking probe (replacement), straight needle probe (for sous vide).
Would there be any features I would add?  Yes, I would like to see a ChefAlarm model with dual temperature probes (so you can measure cooking and internal temp or two meats at same time).  I'd also like to see a wireless remote feature so I could get data away from my cooker.

I say the Thermoworks people have another hit on their hands.  They have made a remote probe thermometer that lives up to their well deserved reputation.  It's just in time for the holiday season!  Do you want insurance that your turkey or prime rib comes out perfectly cooked?  Invest in a quality remote probe thermometer like the Thermoworks ChefAlarm.

Update April 2015:
Since the original review, I have purchased 2 additional ChefAlarms and have used them extensively at home and on the road at BBQ competitions and cooking events.  All three have held up to rigorous use and still are using their original batteries and temp probes.  


  1. It looks wonderful and thank you for clearing up what a tri tip is!
    Mary x

  2. How is the battery life on the ChefAlarm? Would it hold up to a long cook like a pork butt/brisket?

    1. Yes it lasts a long time. I've had mine for almost a year and haven't even had to replace the batteries yet. I use it for homebrewing and making large roasts that cook 4-12 hours

  3. What cast iron grill is that? I think I need it. Can you still pull out the segments when it is extremely hot?

    1. That is a Big Green Egg.

    2. The grate is by Craycort, the grill is Green Egg.

  4. I'm pretty sure my family never ate tri-tip when I was growing up...they must have considered it to be too "out there" for them. Love that there are still new cuts of beef even for a seasoned pro like yourself to explore!

  5. great looking piece of beef Chris. I hope the new probes yield a longer service life the the regular ones I've been using.

  6. @Anonymous - Definitely. I have about 36 hours of use from it so far and still on the same batteries.

    @Joel Peterson - That is a Craycort cast iron grate and yes, you can remove the inserts hot or cold. They have accessories like griddle plates, veggie woks, and chicken thrones that you can insert in each space. Click on the Craycort icon in the right sidebar and it will take you to their site. They sell for most kamados and Weber style grills.

  7. I've never seen a tri tip in any grocery store. Glad to know Ingles now carries it. I will keep an eye out in Florida too. Love the thermapin.

  8. I feel lucky that my Costco has been selling and I've been buying Tri-tips for years. And for once, I can reply to one of your beef dishes that I have indeed both reverse seared one on the grill and I've prepared the Santa Maria. Love the flavor of this cut of meat. Usually I'm just wishing I could grill like you.

  9. The beef looks and sounds great! I know I would love it, but it's still not in this area that I know of.

  10. The tri-tip sounds wonderful. I still haven't tried injecting meat yet... one of these days I'll overcome that fear too :)

  11. I love my Thermoworks - it's so much better than any meat thermometer I have had. The beef looks flavorful and perfectly cooked Chris.

  12. Thermoworks has a great reputation from their thermapen. I would buy it except I am looking for the remote feature so I do not have to leave the couch.

  13. I am not sure if we ever enjoyed a tri-tip. Certainly, I had no idea that you could ask the butcher to cut it "NAMP 185D" I don't even know what that means but I am willing to try it out at my local grocery store's meat counter.

  14. That tri-tip looks sooooo delicious! Great review on the ChefAlarm Chris! Keep up the great work you do!

  15. I use Tri Tip as a substitute for brisket when it's only my wife and I and I don't want to fire up my big Klose smoker. I can smoke the tri tip in something as cheap and simple as a large Old Smoky. One chimney of charcoal and a chunk of hickory about the size of a brick, at 225-250, fat side up 1 1/2, fat side down 1 more hour (maybe less).

  16. I've been eating tri-tip for years in California, it's a favorite at wine tastings to complement big cabs, zins and petite syrahs. Still not available every day here in SC but I do see it in the meat cases once in awhile. It's is a tasty cut and usually not too expensive like filet. My favorite cut is still a porterhouse though, like my bones. I've been using one of the ChefAlarms for the past year, very happy with it. I'm considering getting a Thermo Pen though to take on picnics and camping, much smaller and simpler.

  17. I received my first Thermapen as a gift and since have been giving them out to my friends and family as gifts. The thing about tri-tip, nearly as important as temperature, is the proper slicing of the meat after the cook. This roast contains two muscles and you should separate the two muscles and slice them each across the grain. The grain is easily identified prior to cooking and less so after. Doing this will ensure tender slices.

  18. You got so caught up trying to sell your product that you missed some critical elements of a perfect tri-tip. Rule #1: Don't overcook it, 130 internal is plenty. Rule #2: Allow it to rest after cooking for 5-10 minutes. Rule #3: Pay attention to the grain and make sure that you slice against the grain. The grain is not changes direction from one end to the other.

    1. Thanks for your feedback. It's not my product, I don't work for Thermoworks and I don't get paid by them. Just like their products. Doneness is a matter of personal preference and you and I are only apart by 3 degrees. The 5 minute rest was mentioned in step 7. Agreed about the grain changing. In another tri-tip post I wrote later, I showed this on a picture with arrows demonstrating the direction.

    2. Thanks for your feedback. It's not my product, I don't work for Thermoworks and I don't get paid by them. Just like their products. Doneness is a matter of personal preference and you and I are only apart by 3 degrees. The 5 minute rest was mentioned in step 7. Agreed about the grain changing. In another tri-tip post I wrote later, I showed this on a picture with arrows demonstrating the direction.

  19. I've been cooking tri-tips for years on the grill. I have a gas grill and usually cook the roast for 10-13 minutes on a side and let it sit for 5-10 mins. before cutting. I like mine rarer than yours and take it off when the Thermapen reads 120-125. In the above recipe it doesn't say anything about turning the roast. Do you cook it just on one side?

    1. During the slow roast portion, yes I only cook it on one side. During the CR portion I cook it on both sides.

    2. During the slow roast portion, yes I only cook it on one side. During the CR portion I cook it on both sides.

    3. I'm curious. Why do you wait until the end of the slow roasting to sear the roast? I'd always assumed that searing should take place at the beginning of the grilling. Is there any advantages to searing at the end of the procedure?

    4. Chris, I thought I asked this before but is there any advantage to searing the roast at the end of the grilling process rather than at the beginning?

    5. Jim in Texas:
      Sorry for the delayed response but I neck deep in getting my taxes finished up last night. Sear/roast and reverse sear are both solid techniques. I prefer the reverse sear for two reasons. First, I feel like I get more control over the final internal temperature by using the reverse sear. Second and most importantly for kamado grill users, it is much easier and faster to heat up a kamado grill like the Big Green Egg from 250 to 600 than it is to cool one down from 600 to 250. Once those ceramics get hot is takes forever to cool down. If I was using a metal grill that is less air tight and cools down quickly, I might opt for the sear/roast instead because it is easier to get those up to high temp at first and then let the temps coast downward. So really, it's just a matter of preferences and what you are cooking on at the time.


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