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 .

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