Rancho Gordo’s Santa Maria-Style Pinquitos & Tri-Tip Steak

updated Aug 1, 2019
Rancho Gordo’s Santa Maria-Style Pinquitos & Tri-Tip Steak
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

As part of Kitchn’s celebration of all things California, we asked 19 cooks from various disciplines — chefs, photographers, writers — to see what dish they think best embodies California home cooking in 2019. See all the recipes here.

Santa Maria-style barbecue is native to the Santa Maria Valley in California’s Santa Barbara County, and is known for a particular cut of steak known as the tri-tip, a triangular cut of beef from the sirloin that isn’t necessarily well-known outside the state. Heirloom bean company Rancho Gordo’s founder Steve Sando calls this style of barbecue over oak distinctly Californian — especially because the grilled steak is traditionally served with a side of pinquito beans, a cross between a pink bean and a white bean.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Rancho Gordo’s Santa Maria-Style Pinquitos & Tri-Tip Steak

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


For the beans:

  • 1 pound

    Santa Maria Pinquitos beans

  • 1

    medium onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    English-style dry mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    smoked Spanish paprika

  • 1 tablespoon

    tomato paste

  • Salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the steak and serving:

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds

    tri-tip steak (depending on appetites and desires for leftovers)

  • 5

    large cloves garlic, pounded in a mortar with a pestle until it turns into a paste

  • 2 teaspoons

    (or to taste) coarse salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    (or to taste) freshly ground black pepper

  • Salsa, for serving


    1. Place the beans in a large kettle or bean pot, add enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Add the onion, garlic, mustard, paprika, and tomato paste, and season with salt and pepper. Continue to simmer until the beans are tender.

    2. 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat, heat an outdoor grill for medium heat, using hardwood if you can. Meanwhile, season the meat generously with the garlic paste and plenty of salt and pepper, rubbing the meat with the mixture so it adheres.

    3. Place the tri-tip on the grill and grill, turning it occasionally, until lightly charred all over, fragrant, and cooked to the desired doneness. Use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tri-tip to judge doneness, rare is 130°F or medium-rare about 145ºF. The thin part will be cooked more well done for the folks who like it that way.

    4. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing it thinly across the grain. Serve with the beans and salsa.

    Recipe Notes

    Make ahead: The beans can be made 1 day ahead, then cooled and refrigerated in their broth.

    Recipe courtesy of Steve Sando, Rancho Gordo.