How to Fake Low-and-Slow Barbecue Flavor

A cut know as 'the poor man's prime rib' is perfect for this DIY technique. Plus, how to turn any grill into a smoker.

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Jeff Mauro makes Pastrami-Rubbed Smoked Tri Tip Roast, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Photo by: AJ Wilhelm Photography

AJ Wilhelm Photography

On this week’s episode of The Kitchen, Jeff’s shares his tips for achieving low-and-slow barbecue flavor in a fraction of the time. He uses a spiced rub and a smoker tube to infuse real-deal smoked flavor into a cut of meat called the Santa Maria tri-tip, “It looks like a brisket and eats like a round,” he says. “It’s also knows as, ‘the poor man’s prime rib,’” GZ adds.

To fake that classic barbecue bark in his Pastrami-Rubbed Smoked Tri-Tip, Jeff blends spices that are traditionally used to cure pastrami. He crushes up whole mustard seeds, corander seeds and peppercorns and then mixed them with brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder and salt. The spice mixture is patted generously over the surface of the meat. “Since we don’t have 18 hours on the smoker to create that big bark, we are going to get the same texture and color and mouthfeel by making it nice and chunky,” he says. Once the meat is covered in spice, he wraps it and parks it in the fridge overnight. “Half hour can be done,” he says, “but ideally overnight and that way you get the absorption, and it creates a greater bark.”

At this point, Jeff prepares his DIY smoker. He says there are three easy ways to turn a gas grill into a smoker:

  1. Fill an aluminum pan with your choice of woods chips, cover it with foil and poke holes in it.
  2. Use two heavy duty pieces of foil to wrap the chips. (Be sure to soak these a little because there is less of a buffer between the heat and chips.)
  3. Purchase a smoker box or smoker tube that sits right under the grate. Jeff loves the tube because it fits perfectly.

Once you have your smoker prepared, set your desired temperature. “You don’t want a high flame,” cautions Jeff, “because it’s going to burn the chips quicker, you just want a nice low burn to create the most amount of smoke.” Place the meat on indirect heat and set your instant read thermometer to 130 degrees. It will take about an hour and a half.

Once your trusty thermometer beeps, let the meat rest and always cut it against the grain. “This is delicious, perfect for a crowd and inexpensive,” says Sunny. Sounds like a party waiting to happen!

For more grilling tips and summer-ready recipes watch The Kitchen, Saturdays at 11a|10c.

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