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.

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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.