So What is Santa Maria Style Barbecue?
Santa Maria style barbecue tradition began in the 1800’s when California was still a part of Mexico. A region ripe with cattle, Mexican ranchers known as "vaqueros" were the gatekeepers to the supply of beef.
The vaqueros would throw huge barbecues for the community a few times each year, bringing everyone together for a feast.
A few cows would be chosen to be butchered and all the cuts would be cooked over a large pit dug into the ground. The meats would then be seasoned with a simple rub and whole logs of red oak thrown into the fire, letting the wood burn beneath the meat for hours.
Style of Cooking
In Santa Maria, meat is cooked directly over fire in an open pit grill. Traditional cuts of beef such as tri-tip, top sirloin, and ribeye are most commonly used.
A cooking grate is used to lower or raise the meat in order to control the temperature throughout the cooking process via a crank and pulley system.
Red oak wood, a local wood to the Central Valley of California, is deemed the King of Oak Wood. The wood burns strong, but the smoke doesn't overpower the taste and texture of the beef.
A typical Santa Maria dry rub consists of salt, pepper, and garlic salt. The idea is to focus more on bringing out the natural beefy flavor of the barbecue.
On The Menu
-Tri-tip is typically red oak-smoked and simply dry rubbed.
-It is cut both thin or thick against the grain and served medium rare.
-Garlic butter on French bread toasted over a wood-fired pit.
-A bean local to Santa Maria that's smaller than the pinto.
-Originated in Mexico, the crop was brought to California where it flourished.
-Santa Maria-style barbecue doesn't use barbecue sauce. Instead, the meat is served with salsa.