As a matter of fact, they are even bold enough to call their their town the Barbecue Capital of the World. But don't laugh just yet. Santa Maria Barbecue has a style and tradition unlike any other regional style of barbecue.
Can any other region lay claim to one style of barbecue and one cut of meat like Santa Maria can? There really is no argument anywhere that Santa Maria Barbecue is Tri-Tip Beef Barbecue at its best.
Sure, Memphis is known for ribs and Texas for beef brisket, but you'll find those in just about every barbecue region. But just ask anyone in California and beyond what Santa Maria Barbecue is all about and they'll tell you it's the tri-tip.
At the very least, Santa Maria IS the barbecue tri-tip capital of the world. The Chamber of Commerce of Santa Maria has even copywrited the preparation of the tri-tip!
What makes Santa Maria Barbecue so special, besides what we have already touched on? Well, on the surface it does not seem like much.
A beef tri-tip roast is a boneless cut of beef from the bottom sirloin. It is also called a triangular roast because of its shape. A tri-tip roast weighs 1-1/2 to 2 pounds and is about two inches thick. The roast can be cooked whole or cut into steaks. The roast can be marinated for flavor, but tenderizing isn't necessary.
Tri-tip can be roasted, grilled, or broiled, but in Santa Maria, grilled is the preferred method. It is covered in a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic salt and grilled over a fire using red oak from the California coast.
In most parts of the country tri-tip is cut up for stew meat. But when it is roasted as a whole cut of beef over that red oak, something incredible happens. It becomes a flavorful delicious piece of meat.
The transormation from a poor, often-discarded piece of meat into a top cut of beef obviously has something to do with the coastal red oak. The people of Santa Maria claim that can never be the same without this wood. You can use another type of oak, but don't expect it to be genuine Santa Maria Barbecue Tri-Tip.mmmm
So where does that leave the rest of us, since coastal red oak is native to that region? Unfortunately, your options are limited, you have to order it(and it is not easy to find), or you make a trip to Santa Maria, California for Santa Maria Barbecue.
Here is a good recipe for tri-tip, but you won't be able to call it Santa Maria Barbecue. Nontheless, it will be delicious. It calls for 2 tri-tips, but if you just want to cook one, just split the recipe in half.
California Tri-Tip Roast
2 3-pound tri-tip roasts
Heat your grill to a low temperature.
Use half of the seasoning mixture to coat all over the tri-tips. Let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Place the tri-tips over a low temperature fire, 1 with fat side up, and the other with fat side down. Turn as the first side gets crispy, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Just keep a close eye out for flare-ups.
Continue to turn tri-tips about every 5 minutes. After every turn, baste with sauce and season lightly, 4 times per side. Continue turning until the tri-tips are cooked to your liking. Remove from fire and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into 1/2-inch slices against the grain.
Seasoned Salt Mixture:
Mix together all ingredients in a small bowl.
Sauce for Basting:
Whisk vinegar and oil in a small bowl.
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