California Barbecue Beans (Santa Maria Style)

One of my most viewed recipe is the Santa Maria Style Tri-tip.  My husband and I loved it when we first tasted it as we were passing through the town of Santa Maria, California.  In an issue of Cook's Country, I found a  a recipe about Santa Maria and their special style of BBQ. The article included the tri-tip, beans and salsa--  and  how to easily recreate that nice smoky flavor that Santa Marian's accomplish.. The traditional way is to grill  this cut of meat over dry oak; we use our Weber and soaked wood chips.  I was so excited to make it, and it's become a grilling favorite in our home.

The night before, the tri-tip meat is prepped with lots of fresh garlic and olive oil. It's wrapped in plastic. Right before grilling, the garlic is wiped off (so it won't burn) and more garlic salt and fresh cracked pepper is rubbed on to the meat.  You can click here if you'd like a step-by-step on how to make this.

 Craig has done a nice sear on this cut of meat. He's doing a great job grilling!

Beans are an essential side dish, whenever I make tri-tip.  Cook's Illustrated included a recipe for Californian Barbecued Beans, which features the pinquito bean-- native to Santa Maria.  I can't find these beans, but pink beans are considered a great substitute.  I made this dish a year ago, but wasn't pleased with it.  I decided to tweak the recipe and the end result-- I watched husband and brother go for seconds....then thirds.  Here's how I made it:

Soak one package of beans, overnight, and rinse them.

Please forgive this fuzzy photo. My first adaptation was to increase the amount of bacon that I use. I didn't care for the deli ham, that Cook's Country used. It was just too odd a flavor, so I skipped that ingredient this time. I buy bacon pieces at a good price at my butcher shop.  I love the thick chunks of pork. The fat is what gives the beans great flavor. I cut up about 2 cups worth.  Once the fat was rendered, I added one whole chopped onion and cook that until tender. Then I added  four big cloves of fresh minced garlic, for about 30 seconds (don't let it burn).

Add the beans, and then add 6 cups of water. Let the beans simmer on medium-low, covered, for about an hour.  While that was cooking, I made taco sauce. This is a key ingredient, so don't skip it. Go ahead and buy bottled taco sauce, or you can follow my easy recipe.

 Homemade Taco Bell Style Sauce

Tick, tock, tick, hour later:

It's time to add tomato puree, the taco sauce, brown sugar, dry mustard and kosher salt. I decreased the original amount of brown sugar by half (I thought it made the beans too sweet) and doubled the amount of dry mustard.  I also doubled the amount of taco sauce from 1/2 cup to 1 full cup.  I thought it was perfect! I let the bean simmer for one more hour, and the sauce thickened perfectly.  Cook's Country says to add apple cider vinegar and fresh cilantro at the end.  I didn't like that, (thought I do love cilantro) the first time. It left an "off" taste,  so I skipped those ingredient additions.

VERDICT: The beans were cooked perfectly-- not mushy, still a bit firm. The brown sugar, tomato puree and balance of dry mustard and the taco sauce gives a slight note of barbecue sauce.  There's a subtle tang of tomato and a nice balance of garlic.  I'm much happier with my little tweaks.  I might even had more chunks of bacon, though. I think that would be great.

The tri-tip was juicy.  The balance of smokiness and the garlic is spot on to the tri-tip we had in Santa Maria. One more thing-- garlic bread and salsa are necessary condiments.  I made The Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Style Salsa.  I still don't have ripe tomatoes, but this recipe makes canned tomatoes taste great.  Oh yeah, for dessert... we had Lemon Custard Ice Cream-- with a drizzle of homemade raspberry coulis sauce. 

Life is good in California!

I am printing several of these  recipes at the very bottom of this post.  We'll be making this meal again, very soon. I hope that you do, too.

From our grill to yours,

                                California Barbecued Beans, adapted from Cook's Country    I adapted this recipe after making it, the first time.  By reducing the brown sugar, increasing the dry mustard and doubling the taco sauce, the beans turned out perfectly.  The recipe called for taco sauce, but I made my own and it was very easy and ...             See California Barbecued Beans, adapted from Cook's Country on Key Ingredient.    

                                Restaurant Style Salsa, adapted from The Pioneer Woman    After making this very easy recipe for salsa, I will never buy this in the jar again!  You can adjust the amount of kick you want, by the amount of jalapeno...or, you can leave out the jalapeno altogether. This recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman, though ...             See Restaurant Style Salsa, adapted from The Pioneer Woman on Key Ingredient.    

                                Santa Maria Style California BBQ Tri-tip    We live about 3 hours north of Santa Maria, California. One day, we saw a BBQ trailer that was selling a tri-tip dinner plate, so we stopped to enjoy a roadside lunch. It was the tastiest tri-tip we've ever had! I found this recipe in Cook's ...             See Santa Maria Style California BBQ Tri-tip on Key Ingredient.    
                                Lemon Curd Custard Ice Cream    Making homemade ice cream is much easier than you might think.  Making homemade egg custard ice cream is a whole new animal-- the ice cream is rich and creamy. Using my fool-proof homemade egg custard, I added one cup of homemade lemon curd (you can buy ...             See Lemon Curd Custard Ice Cream on Key Ingredient.    

JUMP to my blog site to view and print these recipes, please!

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