So just for the record, here's how Viegas tells it: The
year was 1952. The place, an old Safeway store, long since
razed, on the corner of Mill and Vine Streets in Santa Maria. Filling
in for the regular butcher, who was on vacation, Viegas was busy
butchering beef loins, separating the tenderloins from the top block
sirloins. As was the practice in those days, he trimmed off
the fibrous, triangular tip of the sirloin and set it aside to be
ground into hamburgers or cut into stew beef.
the meat department already had more ground beef and stew meat than
it could sell that day, so the meat department manager --- a one-armed
butcher named Bob Schutz --- told Viegas to put the tip of the sirloin
on the rotisserie. "Are you nuts?" replied the latter. "It'll
be tough as hell." At Schutz's urging, he seasoned the meat
with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and threaded it onto the turnspit.
What a surprise when the two men tasted it! Spit roasting
kept the meat moist; cutting it into thin slices across the grain
kept it tender; and it had the rich, sanguine flavor of costlier
The store manager came into the meat department just as the two
men were sampling the meat. "What the hell's that?" he asked,
not thrilled that his employees were lunching on Safeway merchandise.
"Tri-tip," blurted out Schutz, mindful of the cut's triangular
shape. "What the hell's a tri-tip?" grumbled the manager.
"It's not in the meat cutter's handbook." It was hardly
an auspicious start for a regional barbecue classic.
Santa Maria Tri-Tip – Rub
- 2 teaspoons of coarse salt
- (kosher or sea)
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground
- Black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary,
- Crumbled between your fingers
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tri-tip (2 ¼ to 2 ½ pounds),
- Or 1 piece bottom sirloin
- (2 to 2 ½ inches thick and
- 2 ¼ to 2 ½ pounds)
Mix ingredients and relish the smell of these dry wonders….then
rub on to your cut of beef and let stand for a few hours if you
can. Barbecue to your favorite tempetature.
Enjoy while impressing your friends with your culinary knowledge.