True barbecue involves indirect heat and smoke, and dedicated barbecue aficionados invest in a smoker. But you can set up a standard charcoal or gas grill for smoking, which works fine for tender cuts like tri tip, seafood or poultry. Tri tip (also called triangle roast) is a lean, quick-cooking cut of beef sirloin that’s an ideal introduction to smoking. It’s the cut used in Santa Maria-style barbecue in California’s Central Coast. I’ve added a touch of brown sugar to the spice rub for a little flavor of the Deep South. The result is smoky, spicy, subtly sweet, incredibly tender and, as my husband says, very “more-ish.” Serve this with our Santa Maria-Style Beans, corn or flour tortillas and your favorite salsa. Sometimes I’ll serve it with our Roasted Red Pepper Romesco Sauce (only I’ll put the veggies on the grill to smoke with the meat). Leftovers make divine sandwiches for lunch!
The barbecue of Santa Maria, Calif., is famous for delicious smoked tri-tip, and it’s always accompanied by a pot of pinquito beans. This legume, a cross between white and pinto beans, is grown only in the Santa Maria Valley. You can order them online, use standard pintos or experiment with other varieties of heirloom beans, such as Eye of Goat (which I used here) or Yellow Indian Woman. Using a pressure cooker yields tender beans that hold their shape in about a third of the usual cooking time. If you don’t have one, soak the legumes overnight and cook them in simmering water for 2 hours or until tender. Cooking time will vary, depending on the size and age of the beans. Use any leftovers to make kick-ass burritos the next day.