Thursday, August 27, 2015

Santa Maria Style BBQ Tri-Tip with Pinquito Beans and Salsa

Ever since our recent summer vacation up to Santa Maria along the Central Coast to visit some of the nearby California Missions, I've become obsessed with the famed barbecued beef trip-tip and Pinquito beans that originated and are unique to the Santa Maria Valley. Seasoned simply with a blend of powdered or granulated garlic, dried parsley, salt and pepper, the trip-tips are quickly seared over native "Red Oak" (aka, California Coast Live Oak) wood splits and then grilled another 25-30 minutes to a nice medium rare (you can go medium, but the meat just won't be as tender). 

A Santa Maria-style grill has a hand crank that raises or lowers the grate over the coals. I bought a smaller version one from Ebay that fits perfectly over the bottom section of our 22.5" Weber Smoky Mountain smoker and it works great. Traditional accompaniments are Pinquito beans, salsa, and grilled, buttered French bread (and sometimes, Linguica sausage). 

From Wiki: 

"Santa Maria-style barbecue originated in the mid-19th century when local ranchers would host Spanish-style feasts each spring for their vaqueros. They barbecued meat over earthen pits filled with hot coals of local coast live oak. The meal was served with pinquitos, small pink beans that are considered indigenous to the Santa Maria Valley.
According to local barbecue historian R.H. Tesene, “The Santa Maria Barbecue grew out of this tradition and achieved its ‘style’ when local residents began to string cuts of beef on skewers or rods and cook the meat over the hot coals of a red oak fire.” 
In 1931, the Santa Maria Club started a “Stag Barbecue,” which was held on the second Wednesday of every month, with up to 700 patrons attending each event.  By the late 1950s, three local restaurants—The Far Western Tavern, Hitching Post, and Jocko’s were on their way to becoming landmarks of the style of barbecue. The Elks Lodge #1538 has the huge indoor BBQ pits and they have what is called 'Cook Your Own' (CYO) every Friday evening. The original cut was top sirloin. Then, as today, the meat was rolled in a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic salt before being barbecued over the red oak coals, which contribute a smoky, hearty flavor. In the 1950s, a local butcher named Bob Schutz (Santa Maria Market) perfected the tri-tip, a triangular bottom sirloin cut that quickly joined top sirloin as a staple of Santa Maria-style barbecue. 
President Ronald Reagan was an avid fan of Santa Maria-style barbecue. Local barbecue chef Bob Herdman and his “Los Compadres Barbecue Crew” staged several barbecues for President Reagan, including five feasts on the South Lawn of the White House.]"

Two 2 1/2 lb. Tri-Tip roasts
2 tbsp. granulated garlic
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. dried parsley

1. Combine all the rub ingredients together in a bowl.

2. About 1 hour before grilling, take the trip-tips out of the frig and let them come to room temperature (that way they will cook evenly on the grill).

3. About 30 minutes to right before grilling, blot the trip-tips dry with paper towels and generously season with the rub on all sides.

4. Place charcoal briquets to your grill and add newspaper or kindling to light them (or you can use a chimney). Once the briquets are burning, add wood chunks or splits. I bought red oak splits from as these give the trip-tips their distinctive mild-sweet-smoky flavor. They are also available from an Orange County supplier at . Short of that, you can buy red oak chips from Susie Q's, or substitute with any other mild wood (i.e., don't use mesquite). 

5. Once the wood has burned down to white hot, place the tri-tips on the grill grate and sear quickly on all sides. If you have a crank-style grill, raise the grate about 6-8 inches from the heat and let the meat cook 25-30 minutes or until it registers about 130-135F on an instant-read thermometer for medium rare. If you don't have a crank-style grill, place the charcoal in the center of your regular grill, sear the meat, then move them to the sides so they cook over indirect heat until they reach the desired temperature. 

6. Remove the tri-tips to a platter or chopping board and let rest 15-20 minutes (you can tent in foil, but not necessary - uncovered will keep the outer seared crust of the meat from losing their nice seared texture).

7. Slice the meat thinly across the grain and serve with the beans, salsa and grilled French bread on the side. 


1 lb. Pinquito beans
3 quarts (12 cups) water
2 tsp. kosher salt

2 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup red chili sauce or ketchup
1 tsp. dried mustard
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. chipotle chile powder
1 4-oz or 7-oz. can diced mild Ortega green chiles
1 large or 2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced

1. Pour the beans into a shallow bowl or plate and pick over to remove any pieces of grit or stone. Rinse the dried beans in a strainer. Place in a pot, cover with water, and let soak 8 hours or overnight.

2. Add the diced bacon to a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook for about 1 minute until the bacon starts rendering its fat. Add the onions and garlic and continue cooking for a couple minutes until the bacon is slightly browned and the onions and garlic are translucent. Set aside.

3. Drain the water from the beans and add 3 quarts (12 cups) fresh water. Stir in 2 tsp. kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over medium low heat for about 1 hour. 

4. Add the bacon-onion mixture, chile sauce, dried mustard, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, chipotle chile powder, Ortega chiles, and diced tomato to the beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer another 1-2 hours or until the beans are tender. Taste and re-season as needed. 


2 ripe medium-large tomatoes, diced 
2 15-oz. cans petite cut/diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 red onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, grated
3-4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1 4-oz. can diced mild Ortega green chiles

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. blood orange balsamic vinegar

1. Combine the tomatoes, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, scallions and cilantro in a medium bowl. 

2. If desired, use an emulsion blender, pulse the mixture a few times until the salsa ingredients are blended but still a bit chunky. Or, just leave them as is.

3. Stir in the green chiles, olive oil, red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


Susie Q's sells its own brand of Santa Maria-style seasoning, which we bought at Sisquoc Winery, but it's also available online at . Otherwise, just use the seasoning blend for this recipe. 

Trimmed trip-tip from Ralphs. Ask your butcher to leave a bit of a fat cap on, if possible.

If you want to splurge, then go for these primo tri-tips from Snake River Farms

Season the trip-tips on all sides with the rub. 

Sear on all sides with the grate directly over the heat. 

Crank the grate up about 6-8 inches over the coals and cook 25-30 minutes.

Check the internal temperature (instant-read thermometers work great) of the meat. When it reaches 130-135F (medium rare), it's ready to remove from the grill.

Let rest 15-20 minutes. 

Slice the meat thinly against the grain.


This 1-lb. package from Susie Q's comes with its own seasoning packet.

You can also buy Pinquitos bulk (sans seasoning, but cheaper) from Lompoc Beans

Pour the dried beans into a bowl and pick over for grit or stones. Rinse the beans in a colander.

Put the cleaned beans in a pot and cover with water. Let soak at least 8 hours or overnight.

Drain the water from the beans and add 3 quarts (12 cups) fresh water. Stir in 2 tsp. kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over medium low heat for about 1 hour. 

Ortega fire-roasted mild diced green chiles.

Seasonings for the beans: brown sugar, dried mustard, salt, pepper and chipotle powder.

Chili sauce and fresh tomatoes.

Diced bacon, red onion, and minced garlic.

In a small skillet, cook the bacon about 1 minute over medium low. Add the diced onion and minced garlic and cook several minutes until the bacon is lightly browned and the onions and garlic translucent.

After the beans have simmered for 1 hour, add the Ortega chilis, chili sauce, chopped fresh tomatoes, seasonings and the bacon-onion-garlic mixture. Cover and simmer for another 1-2 hours until the beans are tender. 


Garlic, ripe tomatoes (I like to use 2 chopped ripe tomatoes and 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes), scallions, red onion, cilantro.

Optional: gently pulse with an immersion blender several time until the ingredients are just mixed but still slightly chunky. Or, you can just leave them as is.

Add the red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Stir in the green chiles. 

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