Posts Tagged ‘Santa Maria BBQ’

Santa Maria BBQ and homemade tortillas for the boys…(Instructional!)

May 14, 2008

So, the boys are hung over and starving:

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Whatcha gonna feed them? How ’bout a little Santa Maria BBQ Tri-Tip and some homemade tortillas? Mmmmm good. The tri-tip is easy. Salt, pepper, garlic powder…that’s about it. I’m even too lazy for that. I’ve got a new baby after all. I bought a preseasoned, Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip from Costco:

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Pull it out of the fridge a good 2 hours before you throw it on the grill to take the chill off. Dry the outside thoroughly for a nice crust. If you throw it on there wet, it’ll steam not grill.

Get a good fire going on the grill. Hardwood is best. We just got our grapefruit tree pruned so that’s what I’m using:

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While the logs are burning down, start on your tortillas. Here’s a recipe I adapted from “Mesa Mexicana” by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger:

2-1/2 Cups of All-Purpose Flour (11-1/2 ounces)
Scant ½ Cup of Shortening (3-1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon of salt
About ½ Cup to ¾ Cup of warm water

Now, I prefer lard instead of shortening. It’s actually better for you. No trans-fat, just saturated fat, which your body actually needs a little bit of. You could always use the trans-fat free Crisco or even butter. Don’t try to make these fat-free, you pussies. If you’re going to do that, just go buy some shitty packaged tortillas because you obviously don’t have any taste.

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A note on lard: I buy my lard from Prairie Pride Farm in Minnesota. It’s pure rendered leaf-lard, which is fresher tasting than the Manteca-stuff you can buy at the grocery store. I just buy a shit-ton of it and freeze it. It lasts forever.

So, anyway, mix the flour and the salt together and then cut in the fat of your choice (lard!!). You want to cut it into chunks. I use a bench scraper:

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Then start rubbing the fat in to the flour/salt mixture with your fingers until crumbly:

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It should look something like this:

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Then get ready to add your water. I start out with a little more than ½ Cup and then add a little bit more if it seems dry. The original recipe in the book called for a whole cup. That’s a load of shite. You won’t need anywhere near that.

So, moving on, make a well in the center, add the water, and stir with a fork until it comes together in a shaggy dough:

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Now it’s time to get your hands in there. Start kneading the dough by rolling it, flattening it, folding it over on itself until you have a nice, cohesive mass that you can bring out onto your table. This dough isn’t particularly sticky, thanks to the LARD:

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Bring it out on your table and continue kneading. Fold in half, use the heel of your hand to squish it together, turn it ¼ turn, fold it in half and repeat:

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Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, form into a ball and cover with plastic and let rest for about 10-20 minutes. This little rest is called autolyse, which basically means that the dough is absorbing the water and melding together. It’s nice for it to have this rest because if you keep kneading it for more than 5 minutes, the gluten gets developed and the dough gets hard to work with and starts ripping. Take a load off. I’m going to go have a beer and feed my baby because she’s crying.

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Oh, do you know what happens when you shake up a bottle of warm milk and then go to feed your baby? Yep….the money shot:

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Give her a burp:

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Smile for the camera, Maggie:

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Let’s go check on that fire. Nice! It’s getting there:

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Oops…gotta pee:

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Ok, let’s go check on that dough. Knead it some more for about 3 more minutes:

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Then form into a ball again. It should be reasonably smooth. It’ll get smoother the more you work with it.

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Let it rest with the plastic over it for about 5 or 10 minutes longer. Then start pinching golf-ball size balls off of it. I got about 17 pieces. You can make them larger or smaller depending on what you’re using the tortillas for. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper, separate the balls and cover them with plastic. At this point, you can pop this bad boy in the fridge for a few days and just take the dough balls out as needed.

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Let’s get back to that fire and check on the boys again. Yep, still hung over and hungry:

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Time to get our smoke ready. Traditionally, Santa Maria BBQ is over oak. Since I didn’t use oak wood, I’m going to use wood chips. Now, a lot of recipes will tell you to soak the chips. Fuck that. All that does is puts your fire out. I like to put them in a foil pouch with some holes poked in it. It keeps the chips from catching on fire and the smoke comes out of the holes. After the fire is out, you’ll have a little pouch of oak charcoal to use another time.

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All right, we’ve got to have a vegetable. I like sautéed peppers, onions and the like. Ahh, but did I mention I have a baby? I don’t have the time or the energy to be cutting up vegetables. The Evolution brand makes a nice fajita mix with onions, 3 colors of peppers, carrots, jalapeños and cilantro. They also make nice salsas.

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I’m just going to sauté the fajita mix in a cast-iron skillet. I love cast iron. That’s what I mainly use. Yes, that’s bacon fat. No, we’re not using all of that but we’re using some for the pan. Ooooh, check out my pretty new stove!

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Ok, back to the tortillas. Throw some flour down on your work surface. Not too much. In fact, just push most of it to the side. Too much flour will make the tortillas tough. Just give each ball a nice coating. Flatten the ball into a disk. I use a rolling pin to make a cross shape in the disc which evenly flattens it. Then start rolling it out. You want these tortillas paper-thin. You want to see your work surface through it. If the dough starts fighting with you, place it to the side to rest for a few minutes and then start on another one. Roll from the center out to the edges. That’s your best bet for getting a tortilla that is actually circular. If it looks fucked up, don’t worry about it. No one cares. As my German chef-instructor in cooking school used to say: “It’s RUSTICAL.”

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How are the veg doing….mmmm good.

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Heat up your griddle…again, I use cast iron greased with bacon fat. On my industrial stove, it’s on low because they’re hot burners but on a normal stove, you probably want it medium to medium high. Not too hot or it will burn. Just slap that paper thin tortilla down on the hot griddle and it should start bubbling up pretty quickly. It should only take a minute or so on each side. If it takes longer, turn up the heat because it’ll get hard if it sits on there too long.

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For quality control purposes, I suggest that you, as the chef, should slather that first one with good butter and eat it.

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How are the boys doing? Yep, still hungry.

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But they’re listening to “Rock Lobster” on vinyl so that should hold them a while:

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Fire’s ready. Put the smoking chips pouch on the fire off to the side. Wait until it starts smoking and then put your meat on and cover the grill to trap the smoke and heat in. Depending on the size of your tri-tip, you want to cook it for 10-15 minutes on each side for medium rare, but do yourself a favor, buy an instant read thermometer and take the meat off when the temp reads 130 degrees when taken in the middle of the thickest part of the meat. I grilled this one for 10 minutes on the first side, turned it over and then started taking it’s temperature after another 10 minutes. This tri-tip was huge and it took about 33 minutes total. The tri-tips are tiny at Whole Foods and they only take about 20 minutes total so get a thermometer, trust me. Nothing sucks more than overcooked tri-tip.

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I threw some rosemary branches under it when I flipped it over for some extra yummy smoke.

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130 degrees. It’s done. Take it off. Place on a CLEAN cookie sheet and cover loosely with foil. Let rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing to let the juices go back into the meat.

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Ah, the veg is done too. Nice and caramelized:

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After 20 minutes of rest time, slice against the grain. It should be perfectly medium rare to medium near the ends for those pussies, I mean, people who prefer it more DRIED OUT.

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And there you have it. Slice up some avocados, cilantro, jalapeños. Put out a selections of salsas and sour cream, maybe some shredded cheese and you’re good to go. Dig in boys.

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