The Tri-Tip (North) vs. The Texas Brisket (South) Debate

I have been reading about this debate for years, and have participated in my share of blog arguments.  I have tried to make Brisket myself, and really did not make one or had one made for me that really was all that good.  So I decided to end this debate this weekend once and for all.  I called upon a friend of mine down in Texas and explained the dilemma.  He said, “Lets do this thang son, I will be up on Saturday”.  Jason, wasn’t just any ole Texan.  His roots went back to the days they fought the Alamo.  So he jumped on his G-3 and flew up to Oregon with his grandmas, grandma beef brisket recipe and a big ass chunk of beef.  He didn’t even shake my hand on the tarmac he just said “Take me to your smoker boy.”  We only had two rules.  No barbecue sauce after meat was served, because we wanted to do a meat tasting test.  We Northerners believe that the meat should speak for itself.  You can make a shoe taste good with a good sauce.  Second rule, no guns or knives.

Everything is Big in Texas, even Jason W. Bush. Keep in mind, I am 5’10”.

He already did his dry rub in Texas and got the Traeger to 250 degrees and said “Whats there to do around here?  We got 10 hours to kill.  So we went fishing.  We came back and about 11 hours later, he went out and started doing stuff to it but I was not allowed to see.  I started my BGE (Big Green Egg) and brought my temperature up to 350 degrees.  I was just using a tri-tip that you anyone could buy at Costco, a marinated Morton’s brand.

J.W. Bush playing with a monkey in the Oregon forest, while his brisket cooked.

I cooked mine until I brought the temperature of the meat up to 130 degrees and pulled it and let sit while tented under a piece of foil.  JW began to cut his brisket, and it showed really good color.

It looked and smelled great. He took his time slicing it while humming Dixie.

He said he did trim most of the fat, but left a little on for “Texas Flavor”.  That is about all he told me about his brisket recipe.

I was so excited, it was like my brisket world was opening up and finally I was going to have a good one.

JW also put some corn on the BGE, and let me tell you folks.  It was excellent.

Corn that has a little pop of smoke in your mouth. DE LISH.

We took the tri-tip out of the tented foil and I said “JW, please you do the honors”.

Cooked to Medium Rare in the middle. It would still finish on the more of medium side once plated. JW stopped whistling Dixie at this time.

He had a little bite and his eye brows went up and you could tell he was thinking “UH OH”.

Tri-Tip waiting to be plated.

So we plated each of them, and JW took a little of the drippings and poured them over his to add flavor.  Not a rule violation, because it was natural and not bbq sauce.

Brisket on the left and Tri-Tip on the right.

Jason W. Bush walked by and took two pieces off each of the plates and said “Tri-Tip wins”, in his Texas draw voice.  Then he walked outside for a few seconds for what I do not know.

The taste tester’s anxiously awaiting their meal.

That is JW’s lovely fiancé standing by herself while Jason exused himself outside to shed some tears by himself, isolated in the back yard.  As a tear ran down his cheek, he could smell the distant smoke from the two smoker barbecues that had just battled.  One spent all day smoking, the other an hour and half.  JW gathered his emotions, wiped his brisket tear off on his shirt and said to himself “Why the hell have I been eating brisket all these years?”.  Then he returned to the dinner table, composed and relaxed.

I am going to tell you something about JW’s brisket.  It was excellent, probably the best brisket I have ever had.  It just lacks the flavor that a tri-tip has.  Grover said “You really cannot compare the two, they are totally two types of meat. One you have to cook the entire day, the other you do not.  It is like comparing a filet to a beef round”.    This is exactly the point.  The other important issue is that some people like their meat well done, as you would get the brisket.  Tri-Tip can have medium rare to medium well done on the same roast served.  The most important issue is that you do not put bbq on a tri-tip.  It is full of flavor, and you can taste the meat.

One thing is for sure, someone loved the CORN. In fact, we all loved the corn. JW brought that from some little vegetable stand in Texas.

I want to thank JW for coming all the way up to Oregon to educate us on brisket.  It was very good and the best I have ever had.  I asked him for the recipe for the blog and he looked down at me like I was Rain Man or something and said “Are you crazy?  People still eat the shit in Texas.  Now how do I get my hands on some of the Tri-Tip to take with me?”

JWB famous Texas Brisket

30 Comments on “The Tri-Tip (North) vs. The Texas Brisket (South) Debate

  1. Now that’s your version of how events went down, but I think I need to talk to Jason about it myself to see what really happened. And if it did go down that way, we might just need to revoke his citizenship. And BTW….good brisket don’t need no sauce either. 😉

    I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  2. I have been anxiously awaiting your input on this. Dont get me wrong, his brisket was very good…excellent in fact. It is the flavor of the meat, the quality, and perhaps the most important issue….the areas that we are from. Just so you know, I ate several steaks in Argentina and it ruined Ribeyes for me here stateside and in Oregon…we have great beef, primarly because of our rainfall. However, the Argentina beef was far supieror just in flavor.

  3. Note to self – don’t eat ribeyes in Argentina unless I want to ruin ribeyes for me stateside. Got it.

    I enjoyed reading it, guess I’ll have to try tri-tips a few more times. I’d like to do a side by side comparison. Of course, your tri-tip had the benefit of being cooked on the Egg and we all know that put it at an advantage. To be fair, they both should have been cooked on the Egg. 😉

    BTW….I loaded up a calzone with leftover tri-tip last night and cooked it on the Egg. Good stuff.

  4. Yeah, brisket it good when its first cooked. Leftovers….not so much. We make a sauce and do brisket tacos.

  5. I am looking at these other blogs you mentioned. Yikes there are some good blogs out there. I cannot believe the detail and photos???? I do everything on a I-Phone. I guess I just do it for fun. I was really impressed!

  6. You are correct about the Green Egg comparison. I gave him his choice of weapons. The Traeger is an excellent piece of equipment as well. I love them both.

  7. Yeah, there are some really good ones out there. Some of them make me feel embarrassed, but then I remember I’m just doing this for fun and the love of BBQ. Definitely check out Nibble Me This. He cooks some great bbq, some really unique stuff and does a lot of it on his Egg, but has other grills as well.

  8. Yeah I am looking at it now. I just printed Janitas Tamale Bites. They are in a different class, they also do not drink like we do when we bbq!

  9. Yeah….I’m sure my pictures would be much better if I was sober (another reason I’ve been handing the camera over to Mrs. G) and the details (times and temps) would probably be more accurate….instead of I threw it on the grill till it seemed done. LOL

  10. I think your blog is really good. Keep in mind that this is who you are and that is what is interesting. Sometimes a blog looks better but really doesnt have any personality. Never forget that, because that is what makes it so fun.

  11. Thanks. That is true. The guy Adam from The Unorthodox Epicure commented the other day “What happened to all the drinks you used to have in your pictures? You used to have a beer or a bourbon and coke.” I guess I was told that it didn’t look professional by somebody or other, but they are going to start making appearances again. Personality. That’s why I like yours.

  12. Having lived in Norcal my entire life and then moving to Austin, I understand this. Growing up, we always had tri-tip, it was like a large 2lb steak, then down in TX, they have this stuff called “brisket” which was cooked for hours in the smoker and ended up dry and beef-jerky-like. But whenever I would bring up the comparison, the TX natives would state unequivocally that brisket was God’s meat, and that I should take my tri-tip back to CA with all rest of the infidels.

  13. I can guarantee you the brisket from one of the great Kansas City BBQ restaurants will blow away any tri tip.

  14. Handy post. Was just deciding whether to get brisket (which I’ve never had) or tri tip (well loved here) and you just convinced me to stick with the tri tip. 🙂 Thanks for the helpful post!

  15. I think that is a very wise decision on your part. We are going to be building a Santa Marie BBQ this winter

  16. My fathers family is from ole KC and I have been to all the greats. They have been good, but if you need bbq sauce….it just doesn’t compare. That is only my opinion.

  17. Gonna try a tri tip for the first time. being a born southerner I have never had this cut. .and I am a beef eater. .my wife comes from the Midwest and ate it regularly. .she has mentioned it many times as we are shopping. .so I am following your instructions. .the price sold me when compared to a steak cut. .really looking forward to this meal..and your recipe makes me feel very confident. .thanks. ..

  18. You won’t be disappointed. Let me know what you think

  19. I grew up near Santa Maria CA and know how good a tri-tip grilled over oak can be. I’ve also spent time in Texas and love a good tender brisket! Tri-tip – very easy to grill and hard not to end up with a tender piece of meat in about 30 minutes. Brisket : requires several hours to cook and a good amount of skill to end up with something you’re proud of – but to me the taste is unique and there’s no substitute. For me , I’d choose a plate of brisket over tri-tip , so long as I’m not the cook.

  20. <> <— Hi! Did this happen, and if so, any posts about it? We are bbq novices, and just selected a Santa Maria BBQ for our backyard, cooking over oak. We have a lot to learn, and would love to see tips about multiple cuts. So far, so good! (ribeyes, tri-tip, burgers, pork chops, and even *brisket* tonight! (which is how I stumbled across your blog))

  21. Hi Michelle, Yes it happened and the tri-tip kicked the Brisket butt. Come back to the blog and check out the new Santa Maria BBQ that we are currently building. You will not only see the grill we have spent 10 years working on perfecting but a bunch of new recipes on it. Thank you for your comment and hope to see you soon on the blog.

  22. For one, nobody mentioned what they smoked their brisket with? That says to me, a native Texan, born and raised in Houston, novices. 🙂 In all seriousness, cooking a brisket takes many hours, very slowly smoked. The proper marinating process should have already been done. The proper smoker is also required to smoke the perfect brisket. When was the last time you visited Texas? If you are, visit Rudy’s BBQ. Thats a good representation of a brisket. Tri tip is good, but in all reality, doesn’t compare to the brisket. Mesquite wood.

  23. Hey Brent, thank you for the comment. You are probably right, JD is probably from Houston. I’m not sure where he brought it up from, somewhere famous in Dallas I think. The dude has a private jet so I don’t think he got it at the grocery store.

  24. A true BBQ/smoking nut loves both the smell and taste of smoke. The longer cook for brisket allows more smoke to be absorbed and, therefore, tasted. A well-cooked brisket also has a pull-apart and tender texture that enhances the dining experience. Having cooked both, I prefer brisket. I recommend the Pit Barrel Cooker.

  25. I’ll take a tri-tip any day over brisket. Now that being said, I’ll have pulled pork any day over tri-tip as far as good BBQ goes!

  26. This can’t be for real, in fact this competition has to purely be for fun with no real empirical data to accurately or evenly judge.

    You guys used two completely different smokers/cookers. One uses charcoal and wood chunks and the other electricity and pellets 😝

    Most of us bbq guys look down at traegers. Real bbq uses wood not bs pellets and electricity

    The brisket has no bark, barely any smoke ring and wasn’t cooked long enough (fat wasn’t rendered all the way, and if it is cut the shit off for petes sake)

    Tri-tip is grilled
    Brisket is smoked

  27. Of course this competition was purely for fun. I do have wood burning, charcoal, and pellet bbqs. Since this has been posted I toured a few BBQ places in Texas with my friend. We went to Pecan Lodge and Franklin to name a few of the best. They were the best I have ever had….still had to put bbq sauce on it, tasted like heavy smoke (you burped it for three days) and it still wasn’t as good as a good tri-tip in my humble opinion

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