Trisket is a confusing term. A cursory internet search and you’re met with Triscuit, a snack cracker brand, as well as fairly colorful definitions on Urban Dictionary.
It’s little wonder that not a lot of people are familiar with the beef cut.
So what is it exactly?
What is trisket?
Part of the confusion here isn’t helped by the fact that you won’t find it at any butcher or supermarket counter.
The reason for this is pretty simple.
Trisket is actually a cut of meat that’s cooked in the style of another.
It’s tri-ip that’s smoked in the style of barbecue brisket.
This makes it a tri-tip bri-sket. Tri… Sket… Get it?
OK so wordplay was obviously not the forté of whoever came up with this, but the recipe itself is delicious.
And despite the fact that tri-tip and brisket are very different to one another, the matchup works perfectly.
When I’ve written tri-tip recipes in the past I’ve always recommended sticking as close to about 115-125°F as a target temperature, which is a good guide for rare-medium rare.
However, because we’re going to treat this more like brisket we need to aim a little bit higher.
In the case of smoked brisket we tend to aim towards 190°F.
Just like with brisket, we also want to wrap the tri-tip midway.
In the case of the tri-tip we want to smoke it until about 140°F, and then wrap it. This will allow the meat to stay tender while we still cook it.
How to prepare trisket
Thankfully, if you’ve ever prepped trisket before then there’s not a lot that’s new here.
Simply prepare the trisket much like you would for a regular tri-tip. If you haven’t done this before, then there are a few important steps that need to be done.
Brining is a criminally underrated stage of meat preparation that helps us lock in moisture in smoked meat. This is particularly important for long form cooking, and helps meat stay juicy and tender.
Traditional brining involves submerging meat in a salt-water mix (often called wet brining). We’re going to do something slightly different here and instead do dry brining.
Rather than submerging the beef in liquid, we instead use coarse salt to lightly coat the surface of the meat.
The salt then acts by extracting the moisture in the meat before letting it reabsorb. This helps to lock it in, and protect it from evaporating as the meat cooks.
Use a good rub
I love a good BBQ rub. They can elevate your flavors to another level, and in the case of smoked meat they can help create a beautiful bark on the topside.
If you’re making your own homemade BBQ rub then I recommend using ingredients like paprika, cayenne and chili powder. If you prefer to buy your own then check out my guide to store-bought BBQ brisket rubs.
Slice against the grain
This is more of a point for after you have smoked the tri-tip are coming to serve. The best way to serve and slice is to do so against the grain.
This is actually more difficult to do for tri-tip than it is brisket, largely due to the fact that the grain of the meat tends to spread from one corner of the meat and go in opposite directions. Thankfully Thermoworks have a guide on it here.
How to smoke trisket
If you’ve ever smoked brisket before then you should be familiar with th process here.
After trimming and dry brining the tri-ip, apply a thin layer of olive oil and a generous amount of your favorite beef BBQ rub over the meat.
If you don’t already gave a go-to BBQ rub, then try a store-bought brisket rub to start with.
Transfer to your refrigerator and move on to the fun part: Firing up your smoker!
We’re going to aim for our standard cooking temperature of 225°F, which should take about 30-40 minutes to get to if you’re using good ol’ fashioned charcoal.
For our choice of wood chunks, I tend to just go for what works with brisket. In my opinion this is hickory or oak, but you might have your own preferences. If you’d like to branch out further than take a look at my guide on best woods to match with brisket for some inspiration.
Once we’re all set up and ready we’re going to then crack out our tri-tip from the fridge, and transfer it to the smoker. We’re going to cook until the internal temperature of the meat reaches about 140°F, which normally takes a couple of hours.
We’ll then remove the tri-tip from the smoker and wrap it in foil. This will help us keep moisture in the meat and prevent it from drying out.
We then crank up the heat to about 300°F and cook the wrapped tri-tip until it reaches an internal temperature of about 190°F.
We then remove it, let it rest for a little bit, and then slice it as per the instructions above.
And hey presto, that’s your trisket.