We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pinquito Beans: Santa Maria Style Barbecue

by Linda

   As a teenager growing up in the Central Coast area of California, I spent several summers with a hoe in hand, chopping weeds out of the Pinquito (also known as Poquito) bean fields for a local couple who raised this variety of heirloom beans in Lompoc.
  These beans are used in preparing one of the hallmark dishes of the Santa Maria Style Barbeque that also features grilled Tri Tip, Salsa Fresca (Pico de Gallo) and Garlic Bread. These beans are almost impossible to find outside of the Central Coast cities, but they are available by mail order. When I make a trip home, I stock up on beans for Juliette and Michelle, also, and then mail the beans to Arizona (an expensive proposition), but their pleasure in having a little piece of home in their pantries is worth the effort. This recipe will serve twelve.

Pinquito Beans

   A note from Michelle: My daughter Maddie dislikes chunks of fresh or canned tomatoes, so when I recently made Pinquito beans, I blended the roasted tomatoes with a small can of tomato paste, which made her very happy. Also, for best results the beans need to soak overnight, and like all soups and stews, the prepared beans improve with flavor if allowed to rest in the refrigerator for a day before gently reheating for serving.
   One final tip: do not salt beans at the beginning of the cooking process because the salt can make beans tough. Always add salt after the beans are cooked through. Also of note, the basic structure of the pinquito bean remains intact even after extensive cooking. Therefore, it is downright difficult, if not nearly impossible, to overcook this particular varietal of legume.


1 pound of Pinquito/Poquito beans
about six strips of bacon
1 large head of garlic, cloves peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
1 pound of spicy Italian sausage: chicken, turkey or pork, removed from casing
bacon fat or high-heat oil, as needed
1 to 2 yellow or white onions, diced
one large pinch of red chile flakes
1 jalapeño, seeds removed and minced
3 large ribs of celery, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced, optional
1 large green or red bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
1 Tbsp of dried Italian seasoning
1 28-oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
sea salt to taste (about 1 Tbsp overall)
freshly cracked black pepper

Special Equipment:

a large Dutch oven or a crock pot


1. Transfer the beans from the bag to a colander. Run your hand through the beans and discard any rocks that you might find. Rinse the beans with water. Transfer the beans to a large Dutch oven or soup pot and generously cover the beans with water. Let the beans sit overnight.

2. The next morning drain the beans. Once again cover the beans generously with water. Bring the beans to a boil over over high heat. Once the beans are boiling, stir, and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for about 2 hours until the beans are tender. Add two teaspoons of sea salt and stir. Lower the temperature to warm. Stir occasionally.
3. While the beans are simmering, I like to oven roast the bacon and reserve the rendered fat in a glass jar. After the bacon is cooked, I chop the strips into small bite-sized pieces and reserve. Alternatively, you may prefer to dice very cold bacon and cook it in the pan after you finish frying the sausage, which is the next step.
4. In a large skillet, over medium heat, crumble the sausage and fry until cooked, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the cooked sausage from the skillet and reserve. Depending upon what type of sausage you used, you may have a lot of fat in the pan, or very little. I typically have very little because I use sausage made with poultry. This is the time that you would add the raw bacon, if using. Stir fry the bacon until the fat renders and the bacon is cooked through, about 5 minutes. If you cooked the strips of bacon previously, add about a tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat to the pan and then add the diced onions and sprinkle with a little sea salt, ground pepper and a pinch of the chili flakes. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft.

5. Once the onions are soft, add the minced garlic. Cook for a few minutes, stirring often until fragrant. Add the celery, bell pepper, jalapeño, carrot (if using) and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle the vegetables with sea salt and ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.

6. Add the roasted tomatoes, or blended tomatoes (as described in the introduction) and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer.
7. Back to the beans. Remove and save the excess bean water. I simply ladle the excess bean water from the top of the pot and transfer to a Pyrex measuring cup. To the beans, add the cooked vegetables, sausage, and bacon. The beans should be covered with liquid. If the liquid is low add reserved bean water to cover.
8. Either transfer the beans to a crock pot and cook on low for four to six hours until ready to serve, or cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven preheated to 325°F. Check the beans every couple of hours. Add more reserved bean water, if needed, to keep beans covered with liquid.
9. Before serving taste beans for seasoning. Add more salt if needed.


  1. I'm holding back tears as I read this post. I was born and raised in Arroyo Grande. I MISS California like mad, and try to get back at least once a year to visit family and friends. My husband and I won't move back at this point, which we had been hoping to do, because of the poor shape that California is in right now...BREAKS my heart! It's not the healthy, vigorous California of my youth anymore. :( I hope in the future that the state will be able to turn around and we can move back, but right now it wouldn't be a good financial move for us.

    Believe it, or not, I was talking to my sister (who still lives in San Luis Obispo county) yesterday telling her that I miss pinquito beans, and they don't seem to be available outside of California. I was going to order some online, but she offered to send some to me, along with a recipe if she could find one. You can't imagine my shock when I stumbled upon your blog (looking for a pizza sauce recipe) and saw this! Now that I have your recipe, I just need to wait for the beans to arrive. Thankfully, tri-tip is sold where we now live, so we bbq that almost every weekend, with the Santa Maria Style Seasoning that I order online. Having the pinquito beans will round out the memorable meal.

    I am beyond grateful that I have found your blog; it immediately has made me feel at home. I will be a regular visitor, getting my dose of home (and home sickness) through your blog. Thank you for your blog and bringing home to this homesick girl from Central California. I look forward to getting to know all of you.

    Robin :)

  2. My mother was born and raised in the San Julian valley just south out of Lompoc. My grandfather ranched and farmed there for most of his life. Pinquito beans were one of his main crops. I so miss that area and time in my life. Santa Maria bbq is a very fond memory so to find these beans and recipe is like a small slice of heaven to me.

  3. I love this recipe and have cooked it quite a few times since discovering it. I would say, however, that if your skillet ( for cooking the bacon, sausage, veggies) is cast iron, you should put the tomatoes directly in the dutch oven with the beans before adding in all the meat and sauteed veggies.

    Simmering tomatoes in your cast iron can cause some very disagreeable results with the pan's seasoning. If they're only in there a short time, then no problem, but if you attempt to simmer them, you can erode your seasoning. And if they're only gonna be in there a short time, might as well just pour the whole can (or puree if you made that) into the beans in the dutch oven.


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