Santa Maria Cooking on the Kong Kamado
When you picture a BBQ celebration, you probably imagine a blowout in Texas or maybe even a St. Louis feast. California isn’t usually the first location that comes to mind, but it should be.
Imagine the Santa Maria Valley in the mid-1800s when ranching was all the range. There was a lot of beef to go around during certain times of the year. An end-of-roundup celebration might include some lightly seasoned, bulky hunks of meat on top of red oak firewood burning in big pits. After patiently waiting, you can imagine the gratifying results.
Welcome to Santa Maria or California BBQ
Your way-back vision is the humble birth of what’s known as Santa Maria BBQ. Genuine Santa Maria BBQ with all the trappings, including pink beans and a chunky, barely spicy salsa, didn’t take hold until around the 1930s. However, California BBQ rose from the state’s ranching heritage.
Today, the Santa Maria Valley is better known for its award-winning regional wines than anything else. Fortunately, more pitmasters around the country are whipping up a Santa Maria barbecue recipe as a nice switch for picnics and block parties.
What Is Santa Maria-Style BBQ?
Can a Santa Maria-style BBQ recipe result in meat that tastes much different? The answer is yes, and once you try it, you’ll have a hard time waiting until your next smoke.
Below are a few characteristics and tricks to getting a Santa Maria BBQ just right:
- Buy oak chips: Though you might not be able to smoke over authentic local California red oak, any oak will give you a more genuine Santa Maria taste.
- Go easy on the seasoning: Dredge your meat in a simple mixture of garlic powder, black pepper and salt.
- Use a tri-tip: Many grocers do not typically stock tri-tips, but they’re perfect for a Santa Maria BBQ. If you can’t locate a tri-tip cut in your area, thick-cut sirloins or some types of thicker fillets will work.
- Plan to cook your BBQ quickly: You’ll need to regulate the temperature with ventilation as you keep your tri-tip nice and hot. California BBQ thumbs its nose at the notion of low and slow cooking. Instead, you’ll be moving fast and scorching.
- Start low, then move your meat higher: Place your rubbed tri-tip on your grill’s lower grates for 15 minutes per side. Then, move the meat to the highest grate until the meat is around 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slice your finished Santa Maria BBQ cuts thin: A thin cut allows you to put your BBQ on a crusty sandwich loaf, although serving them plain and without sauce is just as mouthwatering.
Start Cooking on Your Kong Kamado
Once you get the hang of California BBQ cooking in your Kong, Silverbac or Grilla, test out different meats, poultry and seafood. Just remember — the secret of Santa Maria-style BBQ is simplicity. Save the fancy stuff for another meal, cowboy.