Santa Maria BBQ Tri-Tip...the real story and recipe.

Santa Maria BBQ Tri-Tip...the real story and recipe.

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.

grilling tri-tipOnly 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 sirloin.

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.

grilled tri-tip Paul at the grill