Friday, May 22, 2009

Santa Maria Beans - Little Pink Beans for Big Red Meat

Santa Maria, California might be famous for its barbecued beef tri tip, but for local aficionados it's all about the beans. Classic Santa Maria style beans are made with a special variety of pink beans called pinquitos.

These "little pink" beans are prepared in a spicy, smoky, tomato/chili sauce that's spiked with not one, but two kinds of pork. Santa Maria beans have come into my
life relatively late, so I plan on making up for lost time this barbecue season.

One thing I forgot to mention in the voiceover, do not salt the beans when you simmer them. Adding salt at the beginning when you cook beans is said to cause them to become tough.

Having said that, I have no idea if that's true since I've never tried it the "wrong" way. But, hey, why would someone makes up something like that?

Don't worry if you can't find the authentic pinquito beans - the recipe you see here was made with regular pink bea
ns, and pretty much any dry bean will work. Enjoy!

1 pound dry pinquito beans, pink beans, or pinto beans Legumes
2 strips pepper
bacon, diced
1/2 cup smoked cooked ham, diced
2 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp chipotle pepper, optional
pinch of dried oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water

Follow my foodie adventures on Twitter!


Chris K. said...

Cooking beans with salt does indeed affect the texture. Salt reduces the swelling and gelation of starch granules within beans, which creates a mealy internal texture rather than a creamy one.

I want to have Harold McGee's love child.

Urban Forager said...

I've been thinking about experimenting with dried beans for months, put haven't yet been able to pull myself away from canned beans...this recipe inspires me to give it a try!

Your blog looks great!

Jennifer aka the Cheese Guide

Mike said...

Hey Chef, this recipe looks great! I'm always in the mood for beans but I'm tired of pre-cooked beans in a can in some erie sauce. Thanks for sharing.

Chef John said...

Thanks everyone!

Unknown said...

Chef John!! Little Pink Beans for Big Red Meat??? lets keep the food titles PG, okay? :D

Jessica L. said...

Chef John, you always make me laugh with the music choice.

This is probably a dumb question, but I gotta ask... do you think I could modify this recipe and make it with brown lentils?

I just... I have all these lentils. And I'm so tired of soup. And hey, anything + bacon = delicious, right?

Chef John said...

Thanks! yes, lentils should work, how bad could it be?

Anonymous said...

Following Chef John on Twitter:

"Added salt to my chicken..."
"Added fresh herbs.."
"still cooking...."
"nap time"

Is that about right? :>

Jessica L. said...

@chef- ok, I'm going for it today! I'll let you know the results!

test it comm said...

Those beans sound tasty! With the ham and bacon in there they could eat like a meal.

Lia "business courses"Scott said...

very tasty.. tummy love it.. :)

Jesse from Detroit said...

Had some friends over Saturday. Grilled pork loin and asparagus played second fiddle to these beans though. (Although the real hit with the ladies had to be the chocolate caramel coins and port!)

Barbara in Santa Barbara said...

These beans are also called "poquitos" and "pinquitos". BTW, if you are fanatical enough, you can mail-order them on-line at This site's minimum order is 24 lbs. of beans (12 two pound bags) so you need to be a serious Santa Maria BBQ'er. There are a lot of those around here, I live in Santa Barbara, same county as Santa Maria.

Chef John said...

thanks, I actually mentioned that in the post above.

Unknown said...

I tried this recipe with lentils... I made two batches, one was (blasphemously!) vegetarian and one was identical to the above-
BOTH turned out amazing and were the stars of a large and elaborate barbecue.

Thanks Chef John! I look forward to the posting of the "real" Santa Maria beans recipe!

Eliza said...

Hi, Chef John, i just made this and it was faaantastic! So hearty, so great! Many thanks.

Michael Courses said...

Loved the bean recipes. Love them! Thank you.

Unknown said...

Would dried kidney beans work for this as well? I can't see it being terrible, but it's been quite a while since I've made homemade beans.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lance!
Chef John is away on a well deserved vacation and I will be answering questions meanwhile. Dried kidney beans will work just fine. Be sure to follow Chef John's suggestion of not salting the beans while they cook. At the end, taste the beans for tenderness and seasoning. Enjoy!

Jim said...

Thank you Chef John:
I followed your Santa Maria Beans recipe exactly.
This recipe is simply amazing!
I've also made your Goulash (Wolfgang Puck version) and I've made several times your French Cassoulet with duck confit,
Your recipes have in wonderful ways changed my home forever.

EthanZara said...

Dear Chef John, thank you for this wonderful recipe. I was also wondering why in your other bean videos you season from the start, like in a stew. But in this recipe you cook the beans first, then you make the seasonings separately, and finally add them to the beans. What's the difference in methods?

Jim McCorison said...

Chef, I made this great recipe today. I used the full 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne and when tasting knew it would be a bit to hot for my honey. To help kill the heat I added 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar. It helped with the heat, and it did amazing things to the flavor. So next time, I'll half the cayenne, but I'll still keep the sugar. Thank you for all your efforts.