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Texas and California BBQ

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    Texas and California BBQ

    I have a question for CaptainMike LA Pork Butt wcpreston and any other member from California.

    I am enjoying following wcpreston and his wife's journey's to different Texas BBQ restaurants. Also enjoyed the posts regarding the recent meet-up you folks had in Rockdale.

    My question. People talk about the differences between BBQ from KC, Memphis, Texas and the Carolinas. How do you describe California BBQ? What do you find to be the major differences between Texas BBQ and that you get in California? Not a question about which is better, rather how they are different. Or are they?

    #2
    I don't think California has a "BBQ" signature per se. Outside of the boiled and sauce slathered ribs and whatnot you get at the franchise joints, any CA BBQ places are just the cooks riffs on the styles you mentioned. Some can be quite good, as good as you can get anywhere, but nothing comes to mind as "true California BBQ".

    However, Santa Maria style grilled tri tip is a VERY California thing. The combination of open-fire grilled tri tip, pinquito beans (most use pintos), super garlicky garlic bread, and a green salad are a universal backyard cookout staple from one end of the the state to the other. It is the go-to meat for feeding large crowds and fundraiser dinners. Chicken halves or quarters grilled in the same fashion is very California oriented as well and is often done in conjunction with grilling tri tip.

    Great question and I am very interested in what others might have to say on this.
    Last edited by CaptainMike; June 10, 2021, 01:01 PM.

    Comment


    • Troutman
      Troutman commented
      Editing a comment
      Hook ‘em

    • TxF
      TxF commented
      Editing a comment
      I flag that Sip fan

    • Meathead
      Meathead commented
      Editing a comment
      I think Santa Maria grilling and esp tri-tip qualify as a style.

    #3
    +2 on CaptainMike 's response. As a native SoCal guy, almost all the BBQ places I've been to were/are emulating Kansas City style, Memphis style or Texas style. I'm not aware of any Carolina style places. And most are chains, from a few places to dozens. There are a few Caribbean places that serve killer ribs and chicken dishes. The closest to a native style would be Mexican and South American styles - citrus, cilantro, cumin, various pepper-based rubs/sauces. Grilled, spit roasted, open flame - not so much low-n-slow smoked as far as I know. Of course, ain't no expert either, so my comments are limited to my experience, not any real research.

    Comment


    • CaptainMike
      CaptainMike commented
      Editing a comment
      Hey, most empirical truths started out as anecdotes. Okay, now my head hurts and I need to take a nap....

    • wcpreston
      wcpreston commented
      Editing a comment
      There is a Texas-style BBQ place in San Diego. Grande Ol BBQ Y Asado is pretty good. Big line, too. Get there early or no brisket

    #4
    I don’t live in California, so other than cooking a couple of Tri-Tips I know nothing about California BBQ. I grew up in New Orleans and my BBQ experience includes, Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and North and South Carolina. East of the Texas-Louisiana line the meat of choice is pork while in Texas it is beef. North Carolina favors three different kinds of vinegar sauces getting a little sweeter as you move from east to west. South Carolina and Georgia favor a yellow mustard based sauce, and Georgia seems to like theirs more tart. Mississippi favors a red sauce while Northern Alabama favors chicken with white sauce which think goes well with pulled pork. Oh, I almost forgot Tennessee which favors pork and ribs seem to be king. Western Kentucky favors mutton with a black sauce.

    With the Cooking channel and the Food channel featuring so much BBQ I have noticed the stores carrying sauces from other regions. In addition, some BBQ joints are cooking some things not common to their region
    Last edited by LA Pork Butt; June 10, 2021, 01:20 PM.

    Comment


    • jlazar
      jlazar commented
      Editing a comment
      Sorry. Took LA for the city not the State.

    • LA Pork Butt
      LA Pork Butt commented
      Editing a comment
      jlazar you are not the first and I am sure you won’t be the last. If I had chosen the old postal abbreviation of La. everyone would have gotten it. I guess I was looking for accuracy to postal code and didn’t consider folks might default to to news headlines or sports teams.

    #5
    what they said up above - Tri-tip and spatchcock chickens cooked over red oak or mesquite. salt and pepper to taste, maybe some garlic powder if you're feeling froggy. the chicken will sometimes have a lemon or orange garlic flavor depending where ya eating.

    Comment


      #6
      California is a true melting pot of many cultures and tastes. I myself have traveled far and wide to include the flavors of Korea, Japan, Philippines, and south of the boarder in my bbq. As mention above Santa Maria is a style here. But there are too many more to list easily.

      I would say California style is an adaptation of whatever the pit master's current skill level is and the flavors they are reaching for. Which could be said of many places.
      Last edited by lostclusters; June 10, 2021, 02:28 PM.

      Comment


        #7
        My weird impression is this, based on watching too many cooking shows:

        Texas:
        • Beef. Beeeeeef.
        • Pepper. Pepper all the things!!
        • No sauce, but if you must, a very non-viscous tomato mop sauce.
        • Czech sausage, too.
        California:
        • The only meat is tri-tip. Tri-tip everywhere. Only tri-tip.
        • What do you mean, you don't have a Santa Maria grill?

        Comment


        • CaptainMike
          CaptainMike commented
          Editing a comment
          Well, California has a few more options than that. We have some local butchers who make sausage every bit as good as what I tried in Texas, but you will not find a kolache anywhere. Funny anecdote: when I paid for my order at Brett's Backyard the young lady mentioned there were sauces on the counter. I told her even though I'm from California I know better than to put sauce on BBQ! She got quite a kick out of that! And if you don't have a SMG I ask why not! Funnest cooker I have.
          Last edited by CaptainMike; June 10, 2021, 03:17 PM.

        • CaptainMike
          CaptainMike commented
          Editing a comment
          Oh, and "Funnest" is a California word that translates to mean "Most fun" or "Most enjoyable"

        • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
          ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
          Editing a comment
          Its funny, Tri-Tip is readily available in CA but at least when I lived there it wasn't the bragging cut of meat. To be honest it was chicken, burgers or carnitas at most family BBQs.

        #8
        As a Californian, I have to agree with what others have said. "California" bbq is mostly a mixture of styles from other regions, although we may create fusions and put our own twists on it, like everyone else. Santa Maria style tritip, and all that goes along with it, as Captain Mike said, is probably the closest we have to a native bbq tradition. Out of curiosity, I did a bit of reading on what the Californios cooked before the American conquest. It looks like they had their own form of fusion cuisine, with Spanish and Mexican cuisines blended with Native American foods and techniqes. One source even speculated that the Santa Maria grill evolved from the Chumash tradition of cooking meats over open fire on willow branches. Cattle was king in Spanish California, as the main exports were cattle hides and beef tallow. That left a lot of beef to be consumed by a relatively small population, so they must have ate well.

        In the San Joaquin Valley, where I live, it seems that most bbq joints are run by transplants from other parts of the country, who brought their own styles with them. So it's mostly K.C. or Southern style. I don't see much Texas bbq around here, although there is some. Personally, I experiment with different styles, and will cook K.C. or Memphis style ribs, N.C. style pulled pork, and Santa Maria style tritip. I also experiment with Southeast Asian grilling, and of course Mexican or Tex-Mex. Probably like most of you, in other words.

        Comment


          #9
          As mentioned several times above, Tri-Tip over an open fire is the closest that California comes to its own BBQ tradition. Well, that and dads burning hamburgers and hotdogs over weber kettles full of cheap charcoal and lighter fluid, of course.

          Tri-tip started out pretty much the way any other great bbq tradition started. The cheap cut of meat. The ranchers and other well to do folks were getting the steaks and roasts off the cow. And what was left went to everyone else. The vaqueros on the ranches in Central Valley and Central Coast were high enough up the pecking order that they got the tri-tip, not the ground up stuff. They figured out how to cook it over open fire, using red or black oak, which is all over California the same way that you find post oak all over central Texas.

          Weird side note is that most of the oak trees in California are transplants from Germany ...... think the Black Forest and other German forests of myth and legend. Hansel and Gretel kinda places. But there is so much less rainfall and ground water in California, that the oak trees can't grow crowded close together in a forest. They spread out and grow BIG. If you have ever wondered why California oak trees are so creepy looking. kk

          So, these vaqueros figured out how to cook tri-tip and they also, of course, served it with beans. Cause that is what cowboys do. Pinquitos originally, but as mass industrial farming took hold, that switched mostly to pinto beans. Bread and salad got added as time went on .... mostly cause mom wasn't about to let kids have a backyard bbq without "healthy" stuff, too.

          The way that Tri-Tip spread throughout the state is actually via grocery stores. Stores big and small throughout the state started cooking Tri-Tip out front and selling it to shoppers on saturday and sunday, as far back as the 1960's for sure, according to my dad. By the time I was a kid growing up near Sacramento, it was a staple at the Safeway in town every weekend.

          Now that everyone else has discovered Tri-Tip, it has become pretty darn expensive. But still one of the greatest BBQ meats out there in my opinion.

          Comment


          • ecowper
            ecowper commented
            Editing a comment
            My dad’s family …. Papa Cowperthwaite grew up in Ruth, NV and Grams Cowperthwaite grew up in Tahoe City, CA …. This was in the 1920’s. They originally ended up in Denver after WW2, but quickly came back to CA and got a place in Citrus Heights. My mom’s dad also lived in Citrus Heights. For a fun side note, Grandpa was a CA state ranger after WW2 and his last assignment before he retired was commander of the rangers at Sutter’s Fort. If you went to there in the early 70’s you would have met him.

          • ecowper
            ecowper commented
            Editing a comment
            Anyhow, mom and dad met at Roseville HS (Dad’s best friend was mom’s older brother, they enlisted in the ARmy together). My Dad, Papa, and Uncles were all general contractors. There is a good possibility if you buy a house built anywhere from 1960 to 1990, that one of them built it, anywhere in the Sacramento suburbs, especially Citrus Heights, Davis, Woodland, Elk Grove. When I was a teenager, I was a laborer on their crews, so it’s possible I was part of building that house. :-)
            Last edited by ecowper; June 10, 2021, 07:10 PM.

          • JakeT
            JakeT commented
            Editing a comment
            ecowper there's a good chance our families have crossed paths. Dad's side is from South Lake Tahoe and my Grandpa on my mom's side came to CA from Missouri in the 60s. Ended up owning a concrete contracting company doing primarily curb gutter & sidewalk for housing subdivisions. Same company I'm a part of as well. Third generation in the company!

          #10
          I wonder what bbq is like in Montana??

          Comment


          • ecowper
            ecowper commented
            Editing a comment
            Lots of buffalo last time I was there. I feasted on buffalo ribeye pretty much every night!

          #11
          One of the biggest advantages of living in CA is it’s much easier to please our friends with our own cooking bbq. They always comment how much better it is than local bbq joints.

          Comment


          • ecowper
            ecowper commented
            Editing a comment
            Ain’t that the truth!

          • TripleB
            TripleB commented
            Editing a comment
            How true. Friends ask me where to get good BBQ in LA. My response....my house.

          • wcpreston
            wcpreston commented
            Editing a comment
            My 7yo granddaughter says my brisket is famous

          #12
          Oh come on, Tri-Tip is not BBQ. Tri-tip is grilled. And if you do smoke it, you're only doing it for a short time to cook it, not to break down connective tissue that requires that long, slow, moist method of cooking.

          Therefore, California has no signature BBQ . We just try and imitate the south.

          And in Los Angeles I have never found a good BBQ joint.

          Comment


          • Wedunne
            Wedunne commented
            Editing a comment
            I think Meathead's definition of BBQ is a bit more inclusive than that. And who am I to argue with a BBQ Hall of Famer?

          • Wedunne
            Wedunne commented
            Editing a comment
            One more thing, my wife says Phillips BBQ in Inglewood is really good, or at least was last time she was there (maybe 20 years ago).

          • TripleB
            TripleB commented
            Editing a comment
            CaptainMike - I retract that statement. I should have said, I've never been to a good BBQ joint in LA.

          #13
          Listen all you Cali guys, your state ranks second only to Texas with the number of bbq joints, well over 1200 statewide. Although maybe not unique in style there’s got to be some good ‘cue there somewhere.

          Comment


          • wcpreston
            wcpreston commented
            Editing a comment
            Santa Maria cooking appears to just be a rip off of Argentinian style, so....

          • GolfGeezer
            GolfGeezer commented
            Editing a comment
            This is getting kind of weird. All BBQ is a riff on some cave dweller throwing a hunk of meat onto or over a fire - somewhere at sometime. So I hereby claim that Cali style is whatever goodness we can figure out how to riff from someone or place we think is worth riffing!

          • GolfGeezer
            GolfGeezer commented
            Editing a comment
            PS. Are Chinese BBQ ribs and BBQ pork served in most Chinese restaurants really BBQ? Just askin....

          #14
          For the record, Tri-tip is a bit hard to come by here in Texas, that seems to be changing though. After trying to cook 10 or 12 of them it’s been banned at my house and is considered cooking shoe leather.

          I’m not giving up, I’ve only gotten Choice versions so far. I’ll try a better one next time Julia goes out of town for the weekend.

          Comment


          • GolfGeezer
            GolfGeezer commented
            Editing a comment
            I can vouch for this technique, and it works great even with choice cut Tri-Tip. Season with Santa Maria rub (a salt forward mix). Smoke for 2 hours - I prefer a fruit wood like cherry or apple. Sous vide for 6.5 hours at 131*. Pull from bag, dry, lightly re-season and sear all sides quickly in screaming pan or super hot coals. Tender, juicy - lovely!

          • Troutman
            Troutman commented
            Editing a comment
            Not hard to find in Houston at all. Try one of the larger HEBs. They sell Prime 1 Tri-tips every day here.

          • TripleB
            TripleB commented
            Editing a comment
            Don't waste your money on Prime or Wagyu. Choice will do you fine.

          #15
          Wood Ranch is one of the better chains in CA, in my opinion.

          Comment


          • TripleB
            TripleB commented
            Editing a comment
            For a restaurant chain, Wood Ranch does a good job.

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