Recipe of the week: Beef Santa Maria: California’s distinctive barbecue style
In Santa Maria, the way cooks prepare beef dates back to the Chumash Indians.
Plenty of regions across the country are known for their distinctive methods of barbecue, said Steve Heimoff in Wine Enthusiast. On the south-central coast of California, the venerable Santa Maria style is the only way to go. Traditional Santa Maria–style barbecue must be beef and must be “grilled hot over native red coastal oak” logs. Some purists also insist the only proper meat is a tri-tip steak, but others equally steeped in the custom say that any beef will do.
According to locals, this method of preparation actually dates back to the Chumash Indians, from whom the Spanish colonial vaqueros adopted it in the 1800s. “After a long day running cattle, the cowboys would load deep earthen pits with piles of red oak, let the coals get super-hot, then pile on the meat.” Depending on the cut, the beef would cook low and slow, for up to 90 minutes.
Recipe of the weekSanta Maria–Style Black & Bleu Caesar Salad
The steak called for in Santa Maria chef Rick Manson’s Caesar salad is meant to be cooked “black-and-blue style”—charred and well crusted on the outside, and rare in the middle.
For the steak1 giant 2-pound rib-eye steak1½ tbsp Susie Q’s Santa Maria Valley Style Seasoning (or mix 1 tbsp salt, 1½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, and 1½ tsp garlic powder)
For the dressing1 cup quality mayonnaise¾ tsp anchovy paste, or 2 to 3 canned anchovy filets smashed into paste1 tsp Worcestershire sauce3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice1 tbsp minced fresh garlic¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the salad2 large heads romaine lettuce, cleaned and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces2 cups croutons¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan, or to taste½ cup crumbled gorgonzola2 tomatoes, cut into large dice
For dressing, mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.
For steak, bring meat to room temperature. Rub with seasoning. Over medium-hot fire, preferably one burning red oak, grill steak until exterior is very brown, almost black, and very crusty, about 8 to 9 minutes per side. To check for doneness, nick meat (no thermometers for this barbecue chef) on one side and look at color. It will appear slightly rarer than it will actually be after resting. Remove steak from fire. While it rests for 5 minutes, make salad.
For salad, place romaine in large bowl. Toss in croutons, Parmesan, and gorgonzola. Drizzle with dressing; toss well. Place one-fourth of salad onto center of 4 salad platters. Slice steak and place on top of each salad. Drizzle a little dressing on meat and sprinkle with more Parmesan. Serves 4.