What is Santa Maria Style Barbecue

santa maria style barbecue

So we start with the question? What is Santa Maria Style Barbecue?

Well I will tell you what it is not and it is always confused with and that is Argentinian Barbecue or Asado.

The physical grills are similar but the barbecue that comes off those grills is very different.

To learn more about Argentinian barbecue you will have to wait for my next post when we answer the question, what is Argentinian Asado.

Let’s start with where is Santa Maria valley.

It is positioned in a valley by the pacific coastline that is 150 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles and about 65 miles northwest of Santa Barbara.

map of santa maria

The city is notable for its wine industry and Santa Maria-style barbecue.
Sunset magazine called Santa Maria “The West’s Best BBQ Town

wests best bbq town

So what is so special about santa maria?

First the weather is perfect for year round growing of grass. The average highs in July are 74 F and the lows 54 F. In January the average highs are 66 F and the lows 39 F. The last time they had snow was 1945.

santa maria weather

With ideal weather and location In the 1800s, the land was divided into large cattle ranches, the outlines of which still define roads and town boundaries today.

Santa Maria-style barbecue is thought to have evolved naturally for, In the mid-1800s, in the valley of Santa Maria, local ranchers would host Spanish-style feasts each spring for their vaqueros or cowboys, following big cattle roundups.

Spanish style feasts

They barbecued meat over pits filled with hot coals of local red oak.

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.

stag barbecue santa maria

Over the years, the legend of Santa Maria Style Barbecue grew, turning a local treasure into a major attraction.

In those early days, the favored cut was top-block 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.

top block sirloin santa maria

In the 1950s, a local butcher named Bob Schutz perfected the tri-tip, a triangular bottom sirloin cut that quickly joined top-block sirloin as a staple of Santa Maria Style Barbecue.

tri tip santa maria

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.

So what is a Santa Maria Style BBQ grill?

It is a grill that had a large pit area that’s primary fuel is wood or lump charcoal with wood.

rec tec wyldside grill

It also has a grate that can be raised or lower depending on how much heat you want to apply to the food.

The other way the pitmaster can control temperature is just by using a shovel or rack to move the coals around.

rack the coals

The grill I have also has a rotisserie accessory that is connected to the grate allowing you to move the food on the rotisserie up and down giving you great control over the cook.

turkey on rotisserie

As you can see Santa Maria Style BBQ is a simple but effective way to prepare barbecue. It has a 200 year history and if you are a BBQ enthusiast like me it is one of the more enjoyable ways to prepare a great meal while showing off your true barbecue skills.

The grill I use is the Rec-Tec Wyldside. If you want to learn more about this grill please follow this link https://www.rectecgrills.com/RT-A850-WyldSide-Argentina-Style-Grill .

Grilling Secrets For The Perfectly Grilled Steak

There is nothing quite like a good, juicy steak cooked on a grill. But, many people don’t know grilling secrets such as the best cuts to use, what size they should be, how long to cook the steaks, and marinades to use.

Choosing the correct cut of meat is very important when grilling. Some of the best steaks for grilling are the premium cuts such as:

  • Filet Mignon
    The filet mignon is a stylish cut taken from the heart of the beef tenderloin that has outstanding taste as well as texture.
  • Top Sirloin
    The top sirloin is a juicy cut taken from the center of the sirloin – the tenderest part – and a great cut for grilling.
  • T-Bone
    The t-bone is a succulent cut that is a favorite of steak fans. It is both a strip sirloin (with the bone) and a tender filet mignon.
  • New York Strip (sometimes known as Kansas City Strip)
    The New York strip is such an excellent cut for grilling, many grilling experts refer to it as the “ultimate” steak for cooking out.
  • Porterhouse
    The Porterhouse is a very large steak that is actually a combination of two steaks: the New York strip on one side and a tender filet on the other.
  • Rib Eye
    Another classic cut, the rib eye has marbling throughout the meat – making it one of the juiciest cuts as well as very tender.

Thickness of the steak is very important. Each cut should be between 1 inch and 1 ½ inches thick. The strip steaks and top sirloin should be a little less expensive than the filet mignon, t-bone, porterhouse, and rib eye.

Many people like to marinate their steaks before cooking. You can purchase marinades in the grocery store (A1 brand offers several different types) or make your own. If you are not opposed to using alcohol, beer makes an excellent marinade. You can combine 1 12-ounce can of beer, ½ cup of chili sauce, ¼ up of salad oil, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, 2 gloves of crushed garlic, and 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Let that simmer for 30 minutes over a medium heat. Marinate your meat in the mixture overnight in the refrigerator to tenderize and allow the meat to absorb the flavor. You can also brush your meat with the marinade as you cook. Another great homemade marinade includes 1 ½ cup of steak sauce, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1/3 cup of Italian salad dressing, 1/3 cup of honey, and ½ teaspoon of garlic powder.

Many people prefer to use a rub on their steaks rather than marinate them. A rub is a combination of spice and herbs that is rubbed on the meat about an hour before grilling. It adds a great flavor to the meat, but is quicker than marinade as it does not require the overnight soaking. An excellent recipe for a rub that will give your steaks a smoky flavor is 1 tablespoon of chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, cracked black pepper, white pepper, and kosher salt plus 2 teaspoons of oregano, 1 teaspoon of coriander, and ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. If you use a rub, be sure to rub the mixture into the cut of meat, not just daub it across the top.

There are other options for cooking steaks other than marinades and rubs. Many times, filet mignons are served wrapped in bacon (held on by a skewer) or you can cut your steak and combine it on a skewer with vegetables like peppers, squash, and onion to make a shish kabob.

Coat your grill with non-stick kitchen spray before you begin to keep your steaks from sticking to the grill. Preheat your grill before placing your steaks on. Resist the temptation to put your steaks on before the grill is properly preheated. The proper temperature for grilling steaks should be around 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim any excess fat from the side of the cut to prevent flare-ups and curling when grilling.

You should only turn your steaks once on the grill to prevent drying them out. How long you will cook your steak depends on how well you want it cooked. You can use a digital thermometer to see how well done your steak is. If you want your steak rare, the temperature should be no more than 120 degrees when done. If you want medium, the temperature should be no more than 130 degrees when done. Finally, if you want well done, you should have a temperature of at least 140 degrees.

After grilling your steak, allow it to set for five minutes before serving to let the juices settle. Serve with a baked potato, salad or other side dish and enjoy!

Red or Green? Chile that is!

Go to any New Mexican restaurant and order a New Mexican meal and this will be the question.

You are now going to learn what the difference is, what the history is and what you may want to or not want to try.

Chile peppers are not members of the pepper family. Chile terminology is confusing: pepper, chili, chile, chilli, Aji, paprika and Capsicum are used interchangeable for “chile pepper” plants. Chile peppers are actually part of the Capsicum genus. The word Capsicum comes from the Greek language meaning “to bite.” In Mexico, Central America and the Southwestern United States, it is referred to as a chile pepper.

What causes the burning sensation is the alkaloid capsaicin. It is very stable and can retain a certain heat level regardless if it is cooked, dried or frozen. Many varieties of the Capsicum species are not hot, or pungent.

It is thought that chile peppers made their first appearance around 7000 BC in Central Mexico. The first European to discover chiles was Christopher Columbus in 1493. He was looking for another type of black pepper. What he found were small hot pods that had been used as seasoning by the Native Americans. He called them Pimientos meaning black peppers in the Spanish language. The chiles were then introduced into the European community. To this day, the popularity of chile peppers has increased dramatically

For the most part, green chiles are fresh, while red ones are dried. As with everything concerning chiles, there are a few exceptions to this rule of thumb. All chiles start off as green. As they ripen, they turn red or yellow. Most red chiles are then dried and must be reconstituted in hot liquid before use. But sometimes a chile, such as the jalapeno, habanero or serrano, will become red and still be used in its fresh form.

On a scale of hot rating (Scoville Rating) from 0 to 300,000 the New Mexico chile is rated between 500 – 1000..

New Mexico peppers are mild to moderate in heat, hotter and richer in flavor and are preferred for many uses in dried form; New Mexico Red chiles are mild with a simple earthy flavor with a hint of cherry.

New Mexico has twelve chile producing counties, with Dona Ana County leading. Chiles are the state’s top cash crop and New Mexico ranks first in the amount produced and acreage planted; double that of its competitor, California.

Hatch in southern New Mexico is where much of the New Mexico chili crop is grown. Hatch is called the Chile Capital of the world and has its annual Hatch Chile festival on Labor Day weekend.

In New Mexico when ordering chile with your meal the chile is typically the Hatch Chile. The green ones are usually roasted and the red ones are dried before they are used in cooking.

Remember this when asked red or green? Or Christmas? The green is hotter and the red is a more pungent but not so hot a taste. Christmas is both red and green for those of you who want to try both so you can make the decision as to what you like.

At the Santa Fe School of Cooking they use the New Mexican Chile in many of their New Mexican recipes. You might want to check out their schedule when you visit to see what types of classes you can take and learn to cook with chiles.

So here are some of the restaurants in Santa Fe that have a incredible dishes where the chiles are a major component: The Pink Adobe which features the Steak Dunigan with green chiles, Café Pasquals which features their Blue Lady Enchiladas for lunch and Spinach, Jack Cheese and Red Onion Enchiladas for dinner. The Authentic Northern New Mexico restaurant where the locals go is El Comedor; there you will find their entire menu of lunch and dinner with choices of red and green chiles everywhere.

When you go to New Mexico you will see many a set of hanging red chiles in front of houses. This has become a decoration, but started out as a drying method. Many beautiful wreaths, Christmas decorations, and gifts are made in New Mexico with these dried red chiles. The Chile Shop in Santa Fe is a great shop to see these items as well as many street side vendors.

Whether you are eating the chiles of New Mexico, or buying them for decoration, they will always bring enjoyment when you come to visit the Land of Enchantment.

Matanza – A New Mexico Celebration

In this country there is no better place to find the preservation of the old Spanish ways than New Mexico, as this state is well known for having been isolated hundreds of years by vast rugged distances and warring Indians.

So well preserved are the origins of the American West that even the 15th century “foundation” livestock scarcely available in other parts of the world thrive in New Mexico. You can still find descendants of the rugged, enduring, power house-in-a-small-package Spanish Barb horses, Churra sheep, and Corriente cattle. You can hear cowboy history in the old, spoken Spanish. Although these old vaqueros are increasingly hard to find, there remain a few smaller than average, more rugged than average Onate colony decendents who will speak to you in the 15th century Spanish of the conquistadores preserved through fifteen generations of oral tradition.

Happily, to this day, the romance of wide open western spaces lives on in New Mexico. The Spanish caballero, already sporting a legacy of proud horsemanship even before Columbus’ arrival in North America, saw the first rodeos whenever young vaqueros had some free time, an opportunity to turn work into play, and to show off their skills.

The first American Rodeos which took place in the early 1600’s were conducted by the first American cowboys, the Spanish vaqueros. Two hundred twenty three years before the first easterners arrived in Texas to learn the art of cowboying the vaquero was already a folk hero in New Mexico. He had come to be known as a horseman of great skill and bravery. He was a solid comrade with his fellow vaqueros and a die-hard loyalist to his ranch and it’s brand. He was looked up to by wranglers as a man who could rope anything that moved and ride anything that bucked. He could successfully do just about anything from a saddle. During the time of these first rodeos standardized rules and point systems were developed to determine who would win the vaquero competitions. “Jueces de campo,” or rodeo judges presided over the rodeos to settle ownership disputes and assure that stock were branded correctly. Generally the vaqueros tended the stock on the open range until it was time to sell, brand, or butcher the animals. Anyone of these events required a rounding up of the animals – “al rodear.” This was called a rodeo.

The killing (butchering) of an animal which frequently accompanied a rodeo was called a “matanza.” The first recorded references to a Rodeo in the official republic of the United States are made in old New Mexico family journals.

As matanza researcher Cynthia Martin explains “A traditional Matanza is a family and community-gathering event, with friends and neighbors helping in the labor-intensive job of processing a large pig, goat or sheep”.

“Taking at least an entire day, the process goes from the slaughtering the animal and butchering the meat to cooking the various meat products and preparing what is left for distribution and storage. Of course all those helpers also need to be fed, so the women in the family plan and prepare large amounts of food for the event.”

Today some Matanza celebrations are coming back. They are more in the tradition of Home cooking, Family and friends in the 21st century.

Historically the celebration was done in the winter to prevent spoilage and so the tradition is carried on in the winter today too.

The Hispano Chamber of Commerce in Valencia County New Mexico have begun the tradition again and made it into a fund raising event. Teams compete each year for prizes in the butchering slaughtering and preparation of traditional matanza foods.

Why does food taste better on a Santa Maria Style Grill?

Why does food taste better on a Santa Maria Grill vs other ways to cook? Well, there are two reasons. The Maillard Reaction and Caramelization.

The Maillard Reaction is is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavor. Seared steaks, pan-fried dumplings, cookies and other kinds of biscuits, breads, toasted marshmallows, and many other foods undergo this reaction. It is named after French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who first described it in 1912 while attempting to reproduce biological protein synthesis.

The reaction is a form of non-enzymatic browning which typically proceeds rapidly from around 140 to 165 °C (280 to 330 °F). Many recipes call for an oven temperature high enough to ensure that a Maillard reaction occurs At higher temperatures, caramelization (the browning of sugars, a distinct process) and subsequently pyrolysis (final breakdown leading to burning) become more pronounced.

With a Santa Maria Style Grill you can put your food in that sweet spot of 280F to 330F by controlling the distance from the flame and heat. Also, the flames give the food a burst of heat off and on meaning the Maillard Reaction and Caramelization are more intense meaning more of the food is affected and just taste better.

Signals Thermometer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maillard_reaction

The Four Styles of BBQ in the United States

four styles of bbq

In the United States, there are four styles of BBQ. OK before you start sending me evil messages there are many others but most of the experts (and I am not one of them) talk about the four styles. Two are named after cities and two are named after states but all four represent a good portion of the Continue reading “The Four Styles of BBQ in the United States”