I have an announcement, something that I have been holding in and protecting for some time now. It started with a dream then it moved over to a wish and then it turned into something real, something I have been able to shape, contour and cultivate for months now. Yesterday morning November 12,2018 it all changed for me, that wish connected me ever so slightly to chef’s and cooks I have looked up to and learned from for years.
Julia Child the Master of French cooking, Edna Lewis and her soul feeding food, Ina Garten and her flawless simply elegant meals, Ree Drummond and her lifestyle nourishment. Samin Nosrat and her explosion of the four food flavors. Gordon Ramsay and his Military perfection in the kitchen, Rachael Ray and her ease of preparation, Martha Stewart and her determination of home cooking perfection. Bernard Clayton and his layered pastry, Alice Waters and her dedicated seasonal movement, Americas Test Kitchen and their persistence to find the perfect recipe, Rick Bayless and his flavorful pallet of spice. Ruth Reichel and her passion with food, Jack Gilmore and his dedication to the Texas farmer, Steven Raichlen and his ability to tame smoke and fire. All the above names and countless others have one thing in common they are cookbook authors and as of yesterday I joined that list too. I am a published cook book author!
I give you, The Campground Gourmet, Simple, Delicious Recipes for Dining in the Great Outdoors. Available now on Amazon.
I can not begin to tell you the amount of work that went into this project however, I can tell you about all the amazing and dedicated individuals that have helped me put all the pieces together. Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi creators of RV Family Travel Atlas, they are my editors, they have spend countless hours editing, creating and guiding me along this adventure. I am truly grateful to the both of you and your belief in me, this cookbook and our friendship, thank you so much.
Steven Dunbar, my love and champion. You have always, always encouraged me to take adventures and just go for it. I can not think of a single time in our 12 years of marriage (13 on Friday 11/16) where you have asked me not to do something, you have never said no. But, I’m certain when I am in the thick of it you wish you had. I love you husband, thank you so much for all your help, encouragement and the strongest shoulder I could ever rest my head on when I was too tired to go any further. Oh, and for cleaning up when that raccoon destroyed my photo set on the patio, you are a saint.
To my children, you were my first true recipe taste testers, I made all your baby food when you could eat solids. I found out by trial and error what all your favorite cookies, meals, smells and tastes are. I have watched all three of you grow up and develop new tastes and favorite food memories. I love when you ask me to make your favorite meals, even if it is a box a macaroni (Paige) or a beurre blanc sauce (Andrew) or a perfect pan seared steak with a fried egg (Sean).
My friends and family who have been in the loop and truly kept my project safe and protected until yesterday when it was out there for everyone to see. Your encouragement, help and cyber cocktail time truly made this experience a magical gift. You helped me choose recipes, look at images and you also told me that when I made it big I owed all of you an Airstream or one heck of a vacation…I love each one of you and I appreciate your loyalty and friendship more than you could ever know.
I have always felt at home or in my comfort place at a campground, sitting in front the fire watching the golden coals smolder and send tiny shooting stars into the sky. The fire at a campground not only warms you up at the end of a long day of hiking or swimming in a lake, it feeds you. You can place a piece of cast iron over the coals and slip a fresh caught trout in that pan with onions, herbs some olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper and you have one of the best over the fire flavor meals anyone can create. It’s the fire, smoke and quiet, the total concentration of keeping the temperature there in just the right zone. It’s the laughter while watching a marshmallow swell with the heat of the fire only to spontaneously catch on fire and smolder away. It’s that crisp morning air and a rich hot cup of coffee in your favorite camp mug- it’s the great outdoors. There is so much my cookbook is about, the recipes are perfect for at home, at a park, sharing with your family at a celebration or sitting in Jackson, Wyoming under the peaks of the Grand Teton and all her beauty.
I’m Kate Dunbar, The Campground Gourmet, I tell stories through food and help individuals create culinary adventures with my recipes.
Ready, set, WAKE UP!!! I’m not kidding this is your 4am wake up call in paradise, seriously grab some Kona coffee put on your warm clothes (not kidding you will be in a freezer) and head out on the H1 Highway to Pearl City. The Honolulu Fish Auction is your destination, if you choose to take this crack of dawn food tour, please I beg you, go on the tour, but call ahead to make sure they are open I believe they are closed on Sundays. Have you ever wondered how fish is graded for sushi? How about watching the fishing boats unload their catch? This can all be done and I guarantee you will receive an education like no other and you will love it! Even better, bring cash with you and just like the fish markets and restaurants you can purchase your own fresh caught fish at a fraction of the price.
The prize I was after was a little know fish outside of Hawaii and the South Pacific, coming in anywhere between 1-18 pounds. Long about late summer when Hawaii’s waters turn cool the fish in deep waters develop a nice fat layer which adds a sweeter level to their flavor. I was after Hawaiian pink snapper, Opakapaka. This sweet and delicious fish is found at depths between 18 and 600 feet , all Opakapaka are caught by deep water hand line gear with power reels. The bright pink flesh garners a higher desire for its sashimi cuts because of delicate sweetness.
Once I found my prize fish I headed back to our condo and started my food prep, the Opakapaka was seasoned and wrapped in foil then placed in the fridge to marinate. In addition I sliced up some Hawaiian sweet onions and seasoned with salt and pepper, fresh cut pineapple spears were in a zip bag with teriyaki sauce and red chili flake. Chinese long beans were in a foil pouch with sesame seed oil, sliced fresh ginger, Hawaiian sea salt and pepper. Long about 5:00pm I turned on the rice cooker and out the door I headed with our food, I was set to go make friends with that spectacular and ridiculous sized Weber grill outside. Now is where I slammed on the breaks, I turned the corner at the BBQ area entrance and you know that feeling when you walk in a room and all of a sudden every eye is on you and you might possibly be getting the judgement stare. Well, welcome to my experience, however there was a great lesson to be learned.
I made my way over to a grill and started to place all of my items on the table, pretty quickly the other people a the grills were looking my way. Then the questions started, “what’s in the foil?” “What are those long green things?” “Why is that pineapple red?” “You have a whole fish in there, can we see it?” “You a chef or something?” Welcome to Kate’s Curious Kitchen impromptu cooking school, there I was teaching six men and their friends all about layering flavors, fresh caught fish and how to get out of a BBQ rut. I should have charged them but I got a few nice beers out of it so all is good.
The moral to this culinary story is simple, share. Always share your knowledge, someone somewhere does not know how to cook what you are cooking and if they are interested, show them. Be open to new flavors, I really shocked the men when I grilled off some of that pineapple they were set on not liking it and low and behold there i was texting them the recipe. Simple twists and ingredient changes can develop a whole new level of flavor. Just like the previous post I have included some links for you to make your Hawaiian food shopping a bit easier, in no way am I receiving any compensation for providing these links. I just want you to have fun coking your food!
Mahalo and enjoy!!
One, 5 pound whole Opakapaka or red snapper. Cleaned, de-scaled and patted dry
4 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch green onions rough chopped, white ends too
1 cup low sodium soy sauce
½ cup water
½ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon alaea salt or Hawaiian sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons Sriracha
Place your whole fish in a deep pan, set aside. In a bowl mix all your other ingredients together then pour over the fish. Make sure the marinade gets inside the fish too. Cover and place in the fridge for up to 4 hours, turning once at the 2 hour mark.
When ready to cook, heat your BBQ Grill, if using gas light all burners on high (500 degrees), if using a charcoal grill prep the charcoal mound in the center of your BBQ. When coals are covered in white ash they are ready. While the BBQ is heating make a double layer foil packet, cut it long enough to fold in half and cover the fish completely. Imaging the foil is a sleeping bag and the fish is going to be inside of that. Take ½ the chopped green onions out of the marinade and place on the foil pack. Remove the fish from the marinade; do not brush off any of the ginger or garlic. Place the fish on top of the green onions and now place the remaining green onions on top of the fish. Seal the foil up tight on all sides and take it out to your grill. Spread out the coals if using a charcoal grill, lower the two outside burners on your gas grill to medium lower the center burner to medium high.
Place fish on heated grill and close the lid, after 12 minutes flip the packet over and cook another 10 minutes. Remove from grill and let it steam in the foil another 5-10 minutes while you are prepping the plates.
Open the foil and flake off pieces of the snapper; watch out for the bones they are long and very translucent. Serve with steamed rice, lemon wedges and a sprinkle of mirin sauce or just on its own, enjoy!
Ok I will admit it I needed a change of view, the past two and a half years have been quite the bullet train ride of change and direction. I thought a good rest would help me focus on my blog, give me some recipe inspiration and it would also be a time for my family to just laugh, play and watch incredible sunsets. After unpacking the pantry in our new home I realized my stock of Hawaiian salts, spices, coffee and kiawe wood (guava wood) for my smoker were horribly low. With all of our bags packed we flew 3,750 miles from our Texas home to the beautiful northern most point of the Polynesian triangle, Hawaii! We landed on Oahu and made our way through Honolulu on the H1 highway to the west side of the Island. Ko’Olina was our home away from home with its pale brown sugar sand beach and that azure blue ocean I could feel my stress slipping away. As a bonus our home had a fully stocked kitchen and a beautiful outdoor BBQ area that just called to me.
I decided before we ever set foot on the plane that the majority of our meals were not going to be at restaurants, I was going to cook the bulk of them. I needed the prep to be easy because we had places to go and things to do, from exploring a coffee and chocolate plantation to a ride on the pineapple train. The extent of our food ingredients would be local and I wanted them as fresh as possible, I decided the best sources would be farmers markets, small farms, local stores and plantations. One important factor for me was time, my time! I was not going to spend all day in the kitchen cooking and cleaning while we were in Hawaii. Paradise provided only because I was willing to go on the quest!
We ate fresh caught fish, sustainably raised pork, chicken and shrimp I found organic fruit and vegetables that were grown about 10 miles from our condo. Every morning we drank coffee that was roasted just days before it was packaged from a coffee estate that welcomes visitors. I was able to source salt and seasoning blends made from ingredients right on the island. All right I admit it I even found Hawaiian shaved ice syrups for my children, in Texas shaved ice is a must when its 110 degrees and 99.9% humidity in August!
In the car and off for an adventure my family and I were set with one thing in mind, Kaluku garlic shrimp. Our island food scavenger hunt was on and this dish has to possibly be the North Shores best food destination. These shrimp trucks are world famous and I can not begin to tell you that a trip to Oahu is not complete with out driving up coast to the North Shore. It’s not the white sand beaches, the perfect waves at Waimea Bay or the miles of hiking in the lush rainforest in the Waimea Falls Park. Nope, it’s the garlic shrimp from the shrimp trucks of the North Shore!
At Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp Farm these delicious sweet and briny local crustaceans are sustainably farm raised gems of the Hawaiian aquaculture. Pull over and take the tour the farm it’s there for you to visit and see how shrimp are grown and the inventive way they collect the shrimp from one of the 80 outdoor ponds will shock you. Get back in your car and drive up the road to the shrimp truck capitol of Oahu, it’s at most a 5-10 minute drive depending on how many chickens are trying to cross the road. I’m not kidding if you have watched the Disney movie Moana, you will see Hei Hei the ridiculous rooster everywhere.
To make this recipe as authentic as you can, use a rice cooker and Hinode rice; the #1 brand Hawaiians have used for over 40 years. A large heavy duty aluminum pan is also key, because you have to get that pan screaming hot for the short cook time. I have also added a few website links so you can easily shop for your ingredients, I do not receive any compensation from these companies, I have provided the links to save you some searching time.
Mahalo and enjoy!
Kaluku Garlic Shrimp
2 pounds of jumbo shrimp, shell on, de-veined and patted dry.
15 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup flour, all purpose
3 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons Hawaiian Sea Salt or Sea Salt
3 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fish stock or chicken stock
Chopped parsley or chives for garnish
In a disposable aluminum pan or pie pan mix together flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
Dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture, remove and set aside on a baking sheet, throw away remaining flour in the pan if there is any.
Preheat your large skillet for 2-4 minutes on medium high heat, add the clarified butter to the pan, heat 2 minutes.
Add chopped garlic to pan and cook for about a minute.
Add your seasoned shrimp, cook for 3 minutes.
Turn shrimp over, cook 3 to 4 until the shrimp are a rich pink color.
Pour wine and stock into the pan and start to scrape all the caramelized garlic bits from the pan, cook for 2 minutes, taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
Serve over steamed rice, garnish with chopped parsley and the lemon wedge if you choose.
October 2nd 2017 was another usual Monday grocery store day. I was driving, listening to Tom Petty Radio on Sirius XM. There’s just something about the winding roads and rolling Central Texas hills sprinkled with live oak, pecan and mesquite trees. Listening to songs like Runnin’ Down a Dream, Good to Be King, Learning to Fly, Time to Move On and my personal favorite Walls (No. 3). There it was, the breakthrough announcement of his passing. My breath quickly left me like a deflated soufflé, my heart felt like it lost a beat and my body just stopped like so many others did in that moment. I thought “this is a joke, this can’t be real, someone has made a huge mistake. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had just finished their 40th anniversary tour seven days ago. He was on top of his game, resting and relaxing at his home in California.”
Tears started to trickle down my face and I knew I was not the only one. There were many others in the parking lot with me, just sitting in their cars in shock. I was watching their mouths “What? Tom Petty, NO!” I could not believe the sadness that just washed over me, there was never going to be another Tom Petty or Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers new music album ever again. Just like the Traveling Wilburys, when “Lefty Wilbury”- Roy Orbison passed suddenly after a heart attack their music was never the same. The magic was gone.
That’s Tom to me, pure musical magic. Maybe because Gainesville, Florida is not too far from where my Grandfather spent time becoming a man. Working hard at learning under water plumbing and welding that one day would lead him to a career in the Navy and a Bronze Medal for his underwater demolition skills in WWII. I loved his stories about being that master plumbers apprentice the hot thick air, the Southern sound of music from the early 1930’s and how Florida was a place all on its own. But he also said once you have lived there you needed to move on from there if you wanted to become someone. Tom Petty said the same thing to Warren Zane, his friend and autobiographer many years later.
I entered the grocery store, found my cart and slowly pushed it through the aisles, not a single thing was calling to me. I had wandered to about the middle of the store then turned down an isle and there was the display of White Lily Flour. Suddenly Miss Edna Lewis and her buttermilk biscuit recipe came bursting through my sad heart. If you don’t know who Edna Lewis is, please keep reading, if by chance you do know then enjoy a brief recap of her many accomplishments. Edna Lewis, born in 1916 was the Granddaughter of a Virginia emancipated slave who helped start the community of Freetown, Virginia. She may be known to some as the African-American Chef who was graced by the USPS with her own well-deserved stamp in the Forever Stamp Culinary Professionals Issue. To others she was an award winning culinary artist, the Mother of Southern Food. In 1995 the James Beard Foundation created an award for her, the distinguished Living Legend Award.
Kitchen Aid Cookbook Hall of Fame inducted her in 2003, Les Dames d’Escoffier named her Grande Dame in 1999. She grew up cooking food, simple food, real food with layers of rich flavor and love that translated into some of this world’s best and loved comfort food recipes. She became the Chef at Café Nicholson and there she erupted the culinary world with refined Southern Cooking! Tragedy happened, Edith broke her leg and for a bit of time she was sidelined from cooking. Then a meeting happened with Judith Jones, yes that Judith Jones the one who discovered Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Julia Child. Miss Edna was encouraged to turn over her hand-written pages of stories and recipes to create The Taste of Country Cooking, which in 1976 was published by Knopf publishing house.
So many of today’s Chefs have this very book on their shelves and refer to it often. Some culinary schools require their students to read it. Don’t believe me? Go find that book at your local library or bookstore then after reading the pages and working the recipes start looking at today’s comfort food recipes. There you will see the imprint she has made on cooks and chefs for over the past 40 years. She brought pan fried chicken and its simplicity to home cooks, light and flavorful buttermilk biscuits, fresh garden preserves and hands down her corn pudding recipe is the only one you will ever need. If you search the internet, please do yourself a favor skip all the “adapted from” recipes and stick to hers, the original. They are simply the best and so is her technique in my honest opinion.
White Lily Flour has been in production since 1883 with the company tag line of “When you bake with White Lily, you’re baking with history, tradition, and love.” If you have not baked with White Lily Flour you are in for a treat, it simply creates the lightest textured baked goods because it’s a soft red winter wheat. White Lily is the Southern staple for making biscuits, pie doughs and cakes. Well there it was, buttermilk biscuits the comfort food I needed and craved. Once I was home I gathered all the simple ingredients, salt, homemade leavening (* see recipe at the bottom of this post), Tenderflake Pure Bakers lard and real buttermilk. Now this is where I am a stickler, in no way can you make buttermilk from milk and lemon juice or vinegar, that simply is soured milk and not the same. Don’t do it! The powdered buttermilk, don’t use that either it’s considered a sin for this recipe. Your oven will be set at a very high temperature, please make sure your oven is clean or the smoke alarm will go off. That intense heat will create the perfect crisp golden outer layer, there’s a slight crunch when your teeth break through that buttered top biscuit only to be rewarded with the melt in your mouth tender leaf layers of the softest biscuit you will ever make if you don’t overwork the dough. I had my ingredients, my music playlist was queued, Tom Petty of course and I knew this Southern comfort food would set my sad musical heart on the path of healing.
While the biscuits baked away in the oven I thought about all “my Tom moments,” Tom Petty was there for my first kiss, my first heart break, my first swim team win and my first solo drive after earning my driver’s license. He was there in the hospital NICU while I sang “Learning to Fly” to my little preemie twins. Tom helped me through long baking days and nights at my café, he was there with us in our car as we drove to our new home in Texas. He is there with me every time I hook up my vintage trailer and hit the open road to find my adventures. He is there with me when I cook in our new home. Tom’s there when my kids sing out of tune and help sort laundry. He will also be there again with me as I dance at my son’s wedding in a few weeks. Tom Petty will forever be a story teller to me, his song writing has truly been that famous Dick Clark quote “Music is the soundtrack of our life.” My personal soundtrack happens to have Tom Petty, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Mudcrutch sprinkled through it more than any other musician I know and for that I am damn lucky and proud.
Miss Edna will be there too, to comfort my heart with her time-honored recipes, stories and accomplishments. Maybe I will share her delicious corn pudding recipe with my new neighbors, it is almost Thanksgiving time. Next year I will get over to Fredericksburg, Texas and gather a few pounds of fresh picked peaches to make her mind-blowing peach cobbler. Hopefully I have sparked an interest for you to discover her amazing talents. There is no other Chef I would be able to recommend for Southern Comfort food; Miss Edna Lewis is the Grande Dame.
Those two amazing legends have helped carve memories, traditions and launched dreams for so many. I absolutely urge you to buy these publications. The first, Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes. The second, The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis. The third, The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock. You will love them all, trust me.
RIP Tom Petty, you lived sir, you truly lived.
Edna Lewis’ Hot Crusty Buttermilk Biscuits
This recipe is from the book The Gift of Southern Cooking, it is simply the best and in no way, could anyone improve it. All credit goes to the Author and Creator Edna Lewis with thanks and praise!
5 cups White Lily Flour, sifted then measured
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, aluminum free or homemade
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1/4 pound) packed lard, chilled
1¼ cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 450°F
Put the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl, and whisk well to blend thoroughly. Add the lard, and, working quickly, coat it in flour and rub between your fingertips until approximately half the lard is finely blended and the other half remains in large pieces, about 1/2 inch in size. Pour in the buttermilk, and stir quickly just until the dough is blended and begins to mass.
Turn the dough immediately out onto a floured surface, and with floured hands knead briskly eight to ten times, until it becomes cohesive.
Gently flatten the dough with your hands into a disk of even thinness; then, using a floured rolling pin, roll it out to a uniform thickness of 1/2 inch. With a dinner fork dipped in flour, pierce the dough completely through at 1/2-inch intervals. Lightly flour a 2½ or 3-inch biscuit cutter and stamp out rounds, without twisting the cutter in the dough. Cut the biscuits from the dough as close together as you can, for maximum yield. Transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet, placing them so that they just barely kiss. Don’t re-roll the scraps. Just arrange them around the edge of the sheet, and bake them – cook’s treat.
Put the baking sheet immediately on the center rack of the preheated oven.
Bake 10-12 minutes, checking after 6 minutes or so, and turning the pan if needed for even baking. When the biscuits are golden brown, remove from the oven and brush the tops with the melted butter.
* Homemade baking powder recipe by Edna Lewis
¼ cup cream of tarter
2 tablespoons baking soda
Mix well and keep in an air tight container for up to 6 months.
Welcome to California’s pride and joy of barbecue! This small to medium-size triangular muscle of the bottom sirloin subprimal cut (my God that was exhausting) screams for a good amount of spice, smoke and heat. I have done the official research and the credit needs to go to one man for making it as popular as it is today here in the golden state. Otto Schaefer marketed this cut back in 1950 in Oakland, California. But as far back as 1931 the cattlemen of the central coast, the Santa Maria area, were barbecuing meat on strings over hot coals with basic seasonings. Then the adoption happened Tri-Tip became Santa Maria’s ” signature pride and joy cut” truly barbequed beef was launched into a new territory. Go ahead, Google “Santa Maria Style BBQ.” I dare ya, oh and have a towel ready, you’re going to drool and go racing out to your nearest butcher to obtain this precious low-fat, full flavored cut of beef. I have two in my fridge right now about ready to kiss the grill any second.
There is a bit of a disappointing part, many butcher shops east of the California/Nevada/Arizona border do not market the tri tip cut-you’re going to have to ask for it. This is where you will start to build a relationship with the specialist; a butcher, a professionally trained expert in the animal protein world. If you already have a good relationship with yours it’s going to get even better. I don’t know a butcher around that does not want to market the “next best cut” and tri tip will do it in spades. I’m also guessing you will be able to purchase it for quite a bit less than us right now I paid about $9.95 a pound. The secret is to not overcook this marbled fat flecked beauty. Medium is about as done as you will want it. The soft pink hue throughout its center is the signature look with its crusty pepper, garlic, salt and onion seasoning that perfectly kisses the char marked and smoked tri tip is out of this world.
My son, Sean, has the say on this share, he’s kind of nuts over my barbecue seasoning and knows it’s one of my secrets. Before this entry is published I will send him the ingredient list so I can uphold my end of the bargain to let him know first above all others. I created my seasoning blend about 15 years ago, yes I was happily barbecuing away at age 24 living in my tiny two-bedroom home with my son Sean trying to make it as a single mom living humbly, very humbly. I would save my money all month I would budget correctly and buy one tri-tip then I would do the sin of the earth, I would cut that piece of beef into three smaller pieces so we could eat barbecue almost every Friday.
I would make a small pyramid of charcoal briquettes in my weber kettle grill then with a small well in the top I would crumple some newspaper and light it. When the coals were blazing red and covered in heavenly white ash I would place the grill grate over the coals and lightly oil it using a few paper towels crumpled together and soaked in a bit of cooking oil held with tongs and brushed over so the meat would not stick. I would wait about 10 minutes for that grill to get searing hot. Then I would throw a few mesquite wood chunks (not chips) on the hot coals just moments before the meat was put on the grill, quickly the backyard filled with sweet mesquite smoke the black pepper, garlic, onions and chili spice too. The sizzling and popping sounds from the searing meat and fat (I just drooled) were the symphony of a perfect Friday night Mother and son tradition. I would let that small portion cook on the grill for about eight minutes then I would turn the meat over and cook the other side about eight minutes longer. When it was ready I would take the tri tip off the grill and give it a good 10 minute rest time before slicing it. My choice is to slice it against the grain so the meat is most and tender, I would also make my slices about a ¼” thick, traditional tri tip cuts are about ½” thick. Sean would be waiting at our table in his seat just smiling away, as he ate I would watch my son melt in that tri trip’s smoky mysterious taste. I loved those Friday night dates with him, when he comes home on leave from the Army this one of the first meals he asks for.
If I was grilling a whole tri-tip it would be cooked a bit differently I would set up the charcoal in an indirect method, hot coals on one side of the kettle, empty space on the other. When it was time to put the meat on the grill grate you place it on the side without the heat directly below. Put the lid on and position the vent holes over the tri tip to: draw the smoke around it further to add to the richness of the flavor, have the vent holes about 3/4 way closed. After about 45 minutes it was done and off the heat with a resting time of about 10 minutes. If you’re using a smoker 225° for about four hours with good mesquite, apple, or even pecan wood but only for the first two hours. Adding wood chunks will produce one heck-of smoke ring; it’ll be a gem! Get out your grill, clean it down, oil the grills grates and go see your butcher.