catering San Luis Obispo

Popolo Catering answers the question, ‘Is tri-tip best barbequed over oak or briquets?’

San Luis Obispo’s Popolo Catering recently announced the secret to the best tri-tip barbecue, starting with enough meat to feed everyone plus leftovers and red oak wood. Even though many people use briquets or other kinds of wood, it’s the red oak that gives the meat the sought-after flavor.

Anyone interested in barbecuing up some delicious tri-tip can find recipes on the internet, in cookbooks, and from friends. But, for the real thing, California red oak firewood is a requirement.

Red oak is a category of oak trees that grow all across Northern America. A special species of red oak (Quercus agrifolia), a California oak known as coast live oak, is the choice for barbecuing tri-tip. According to Calscape, the coast live oak is “one of the only California native oaks that thrive in coastal environments.” The coast live oak, with its huge canopy and gnarled branches, reaches up to 80 feet tall and lives over 200 years. Over 270 species of wildlife depend on these trees for habitat and food. Acorns from oak trees feed wildlife and were a staple in the diets of the indigenous populations before European contact. The Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo caterers at Popolo Catering use only red oak wood from the coastal live oak to barbecue tri-tip.

Coast live oak wood has been a staple for firewood, especially for barbecuing tri-tip, which some experts say evolved into the trademarked Santa Maria Style BBQ from the early 1800s. Special cuts of beef were seasoned and then slowly cooked over pits of red oak coals to feed ranch hands and neighboring families who showed up to help with roundups and brandings. Along with big pots of beans, favorite side dishes, and homemade desserts supplied by visiting families, the early farmers and ranchers put on a feast that became a California tradition. Even today, roundups and brandings are an opportunity for neighbors to get together, help out, and end the day with a feast.

Of course, the other important ingredient to the perfect barbecued tri-tip is the meat. The name, tri-tip, comes from the uniquely triangular shape that is cut from the bottom of sirloin. This highly desirable cut of meat is low in fat. It’s flavorful whether roasted in the oven or grilled, but the best-tasting tri-tip can only be achieved when it is properly seasoned and slowly barbequed over red oak coals.

What is the best secret recipe for tri-tip BBQ?

Here is the foundation for a tri-tip recipe that can be customized into a personal, secret heirloom recipe:

  1. Red oak firewood. Make sure it is from the coastal live oak.
  2. As many pounds of tri-tip as needed.
  3. Season well, using favored seasonings. Salt, pepper, and garlic are among the most favored.
  4. A barbeque that is constructed for wood fuel and very hot coals. Or, follow the pioneering tradition and dig a pit in the ground.
  5. Fill the barbecue with red oak wood, light it, and let it burn down to red hot coals.
  6. Barbecue the meat!

Be patient and a custom, private recipe will evolve that becomes a family tradition. Or, for those located in San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, or other nearby locations, consider hiring Popolo Catering for an excellent tri-tip BBQ!

Popolo Catering is a family-owned and operated company that takes pride in its personal touches to its event catering services. Managed by Leon and Kathleen Castillo, with other family members holding key positions, the San Luis Obispo catering company has become one of the most popular choices for weddings, anniversaries, corporate events, and just about any other time friends and families get together.

Popolo Catering has the equipment and staff to cater three weddings or other events per weekend. Their trailers are equipped with cooking equipment and refrigeration allowing them to cater anywhere on California’s Central Coast.

The family’s strong commitment to quality, customer service, and their community has made placed them at the top of the list for catering any kind of event. Check out the online a la carte menu for an idea of the variety of food that is available.

Popolo Catering
1605 Calle Joaquin
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
(805) 543-9543