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Lompoc Pinquito Beans for Tri-Tip

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    Lompoc Pinquito Beans for Tri-Tip

    Meathead put together a great web page on Tri-Tip and its origins in Santa Maria, CA. I have a slight issue with his description of Santa Maria as a coastal town; it's about 50 miles from the coast, in the warm, sunny Santa Maria Valley. On the coast is the small town of Lompoc (pronounced:lom-poke, you can make up your own high school cheer) in the cool, fog-shrouded Valley of the Flowers. It's a primary growing area for Burpee flower seeds, and a beautiful sight in June; my wife grew up there. There is a friendly rivalry between Lompoc and Santa Maria. There's no question that tri-tip originated in Santa Maria, but Lompoc lays claim to the traditional side dish: pinquito beans, also known as poquitos. They are small, pink, beans with a unique meaty flavor. They usually remain a bit firm even after cooking.

    As with any "traditional" recipe, there are a number of variations on the theme. Let's start with the Bag or T-Shirt recipe, so called because it was printed on souvenir cloth bags of dry beans, and on T-Shirts marketed by the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce.
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    Here's the recipe on the back of the shirt:

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    Sadly, pinquito beans are not readily available. S&W sells a canned version, not plain but in a sauce. It's pretty good, but the only place I have seen a can on the shelf is in West Maui. Go figure. But you can order the dried beans from Betteravia Farms: http://www.poquitos.com/. Motto: "The Spirit of the BBQ Lives in the Beans," which makes sense to me. Their plastic bag has the following version:

    2 lbs Poquito/Pinquito beans
    1 medium white onion, diced
    1/2 lb bacon, diced
    1/2 lb ground beef
    1 packet chili mix
    2 cloves garlic
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1/2 tsp oregano
    2-4 tsp salt
    1-1/2 C tomato juice

    Presoak beans overnight, to reduce cooking time. Drain, and cover with water, bring to a boil, and add salt and pepper. Turn heat to simmer and cook until al dente, about 1-1/4 hour if presoaked, 2-3 hours if not. Add water as needed to just cover beans, and/or partially cover. Saute bacon and beef, drain, then add onion, garlic, pepper, seasonings, and tomato juice. When heated through, add to beans and simmer about 30 minutes or until beans have desired tenderness.

    I generally follow the Betteravia recipe, except adding some diced bell pepper, and substituting chili powder for the supermarket packet, and a 15 oz can of tomato sauce for the tomato juice. I also add up to a Tbs of cumin; in my view, one can't have too much cumin. Also after simmering the beans in water, I drain, reserving the liquid, then add the other ingredients and enough of the reserved liquid, about 2 C, to get the desired consistency.

    There are other versions out there, some using ham instead of bacon. I've made a vegetarian version with no meat and it was good also. For the story of Santa Maria BBQ, and more recipes, including beef and side dishes, see http://www.lospadrescounty.net/et/smbbq.html and http://www.casagordita.com/tritip.htm

    So maybe they're Pinquitos, maybe Poquitos, but they come from the Lompoc - Santa Maria valley of central CA. You should try them with Tri-Tip both because they are authentic and because they are delicious.

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    I'm from Sacramento originally. Spent a lot of time around Santa Maria, Lompoc, etc. Love pinquitos! Thanks for the recipe. Next time I cook Tri-Tip, definitely doing this.


      Only thing I knew of Lompoc was the prison... good to see they have some good beans as well.



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