Santa Maria Barbecue (a.k.a. Santa Maria BBQ) is a local foods treasure from the Santa Maria Valley in California that traces it origins to cattle runs and 19th-century settlers. Santa Maria Barbecue isn't a technique or a dish: It's a meal. Grilled beef top block (or smaller cuts such as tri-tip or sirloin) is paired with beans, salad, garlic bread, and salsa fresca to make a crave-inducing meal.
Santa Maria Barbecue
"Real" Santa Maria Barbecue (that is, Santa Maria Barbecue served near Santa Maria, California) is usually cooked for very large groups - fund raisers, church suppers, family reunions. It is both possible and rewarding to cook up Santa Maria Barbecue for smaller gatherings. These recipes are scaled for groups of 6 to 8. They are easily scaled up!
The real deal is also traditionally cooked over red oak coals. If you have access to them, by all means use them. But other coals or even a gas grill produces perfectly delicious results.
The centerpiece of Santa Maria Barbecue is grilled beef. For large groups, whole top block is cooked slowly over red oak coals. For smaller groups, tri-tip, a roast that usually comes in at 2 pounds or under, works beautifully. At larger gatherings 3-inch-thick beef sirloin (roasts of 3 to 4 pounds) is also grilled, so feel free to substitute that if you like. The key to the beef in Santa Maria Barbecue is to keep it simple: salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Nothing more, nothing less. See the recipe for Grilled Beef Tri-Tip.
Pinquito Beans are small pink beans that keep their shape during long cooking. Pinquitos are great, but not easy to find. Luckily, other small-ish beans, such as navys or pintos, also work. For the most delicious results, however, you will need to buy dried beans, soak them, and then cook them and spice them. Sound daunting? Try this Quick Soak Method For Dried Beans for same-day results. See the recipe for Pinquito Beans.