Monday, February 23, 2009

Let's Talk Steak

What are the best cuts and why?

We do many shows around the region and always get asks this question, hope this helps.

The Filet Mignon steak cut of beef is taken from the tenderloin which runs along the side of the spine. It is a non-weight bearing muscle which receives very little exercise, this is what makes the filet so tender. We cut the tenderloin into 5oz., 8oz., or 12oz. portions before placing them over a red oak open flame BBQ. This is one of the most prized cuts of beef on the market because of its tender, and melt in your mouth texture. The average steer only produces 4 to 6 lbs of filet.
The filet is still my favorite cut.

The Strip Steak is one of our most popular cuts in the restaurant and on line. In the United States, the strip steak is known as the New York or the Kansas City. An interesting fact is the Kansas City strip steak usually has a portion of the bone connected, whereas the New York strip steak is boneless. In the UK and Australia, the same steak is called the Porterhouse. Which ever name you call it, this cut of beef is from the strip loin part of the sirloin. This steak also consists of a muscle that does little work so it is tender, however not as tender as the rib eye or the filet. Now the fat content is somewhere between these two steaks, allowing for a more full flavor of beef. We cut our New York’s traditionally into 8oz., 10oz., and 15oz. portions before placing them on the BBQ.

The Rib Eye is a cut of steak from the beef rib. Another very popular cut, it’s juicy and tenderness makes it one of the most sought after steaks on the market today. The beef from the rib section is tender and a bit fattier, or more marbled if you will. This extra fat makes the rib eye more flavorsome and is delicious when cooked in the Santa Maria style BBQ way. We cut the rib eye into 8oz., 10oz., and 15oz., portions in the restaurant.
The Rib eye is delicious, and for me, it’s a close second to the Filet Mignon.

The T-bone or the Porterhouse steak contains meat from the strip loin and on the otherside contains steak from the tenderloin. The tenderloin being the smallest section. So, basically you’ve got a New York strip steak married to a filet, it’s just that simple. Because of the large portion size of this cut, we find that it is much more popular amongst our male guest. Our serving size of the T-Bone is 22oz.
The top sirloin is a cut of meat from the loin of the steer. This steak differs from the sirloin steaks in that the bone and tenderloin have been removed. This cut of beef reminds me of the filet, just not quite as tender. We serve the tops in 7oz., 10oz., and 15oz. portions at the restaurant.

The Tri-Tip is a small triangular muscle, cut from the bottom sirloin. Measuring 2lbs – 3lbs. Originally, this cut was just used for ground beef, until the late 1950’s, when it became the local specialty in Santa Maria, California. It was then cooked whole on a grill or rotisserie. The Tri-Tip is still labeled the “Santa Maria Steak”, as it has enjoyed increasing popularity elsewhere for it’s lower fat content, full flavor, and comparatively lower cost. It is only available with our on line store, we do not serve it in the restaurant at this time. The Tri-tip has also become a popular cut of meat for producing Chili con carne on the competitive chili cooking circuit, supplanting ground beef because the low fat content produces little grease, for which judges take off points. Check out our favorite chili cook offs at the
When serving up the whole family, the Tri Tip is definitely my pick.
Hope this has been informative. The best cuts really just come down to you and your taste buds, oh and having a great grill master preparing them doesn’t hurt. So next time you order, try a different cut, you might just find a new favorite!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

BBQ California Style

Welcome to the world of Santa Maria Style BBQ. I am your host, Stacey (Ostini) Mosti. My blog will be dedicated to the world of BBQ on the Central Coast of California, and of course, the great wines here in our little "wine country".

Why did I choose this as my favorite topic to blog about? Well my family has been specializing in Santa Maria BBQ for over 5 decades. I went from baby food right to Filet Mignon. Now this style of BBQ dates back over a century, to the days of the Spanish Rancheros. Where BBQ meant grilling over an open fire of red oak. In fact, The Hitching Post restaurant brought Santa Maria style BBQ to perfection in 1952. Yes, The Hitching Post has been in our family for 57 years now and counting. Noted as one of the first Steak Houses to bring this type of BBQ indoors. Go to for details.

Now for those of you not familiar with the Central Coast, it's just a couple hours north of Los Angeles, CA. Known mostly for it's great BBQ, the little town of Santa Maria might also ring a bell for being the location of the Michael Jackson trial that took place there just a few years back. And not too far down the road is Santa Yenz, where they shot the blockbuster movie "Sideways". (Note, The Hitching Post II was featured in the film.)

So what makes Santa Maria Style BBQ so special you might ask? It's a triple play. The wood it's cooked over, the meat you choose, and the seasoning/baste combination. It's really like no other Bar-B-Q you've ever tasted. And once you've had it, I think you will rank it as one of your favorites.

Our style of BBQ is grilling over a very hot fire. The special BBQ pits are designed so you can lower your grill closer to the flame when needed, and then quickly pull it up when the fire gets too hot. BBQ Pits like the one I'm describing are available in Santa Maria and surrounding areas. For example, Santa Maria BBQ Outfitters at: They make all shapes and sizes of quality BBQ pits. Now this type of pit mastery is an art, don't get angry if you don't master it your first time out. For the local pit masters, it can take months, and sometimes even years to perfect.

There is a special aroma that fills the air when pulling into your favorite Bar-B-Q joints in town. That would be the smell of California Red Oak burning. That smoke actually penetrates the meat, infusing it with a full flavor. Your month starts watering even before you step foot through the front doors of The World Famous Hitching Post, or one of the great steak houses in town. Of course I am partial to The Hitching Post obviously because it's been in my family for generations and I enjoy tradition. But as I continue to blog here, I will talk about other restaurants as well, like Jockos or the Far Western

Another secret to this great Bar-B-Que is the quality of meats you are working with. We use Midwestern corn fed beef. There will always be a dispute over what makes the best steak, but from what we have found in our 57 years of experience, Midwestern corn fed beef is the way to go. It's best to find beef that has been somewhat aged. That helps with locking in the natural juices of the meat. It is challenging to find that type of beef at your local market. Of course we sell ours at , but if you do order it from some other company, make sure to order the prime or choice cuts of steak which are hand trimmed and chemical free. They should be shipped out two day air and arrive frozen. You might pay a bit more for this excellent beef, but in the end, is the result worth it?.....Heavens YES!

The most popular cut here in Santa Maria is the "Tri-Tip." Discovered by butcher Fred Schwab in the 1950's, it's known as "The Santa Maria Steak." It is difficult to just find this cut of beef anywhere throughout the states. Costco seems to be doing a good job of carrying it, but if you can't find it there, just search Tri-Tip Steak and buy online, or ask your local butcher to cut a Tri-Tip for you from the bottom portion of the sirloin.

And now for the finishing touches. A lot of times when people Bar-B-Que or Grill, the meat becomes dry and chewy. Well, the third step to the Triple Play is the secret. We don't marinate the meat, we baste it as it cooks. The baste consists of an oil and vinegar combination and the Santa Maria Traditional garlic salt seasoning amongst other ingredients. We can't give all the secrets out. In fact, our family's secret blends are stowed away under lock and key.
Well thanks for listening. Hope you learned something new today. Come back and visit this blog again real soon. We will be discussing the best cuts of beef in more detail and how to prepare them. Until then, eat BBQ, enjoy wine, and laugh often!
Talk soon...<><