Monday, May 30, 2011

Red Oak...The wood of choice for Santa Maria Style BBQ

I am originally from Santa Maria, California, home of Santa Maria Style BBQ. What makes our BBQ so unique is the wood we use for our Qs. And traditionally we use Red Oak wood. That is because it was the most prevalent wood around back in the day in the Santa Maria area.

Red Oak wood is all over in the hills. Check this picture out:

I took this picture over in the Santa Maria area off of Hwy 135. Those are oaks in them there hills!!!

 And those little dots are cattle.

That green patch in the middle is a vineyard. Santa Maria is located in what is call the Central Coast of California. This area is also known for their grape vineyards that produce award-winning quality wines.

Here is another view of the countryside showing the "scrub" red oaks and more vineyards.

Oakwood is a dense wood, burns hot and long and makes for some good coals that hold their shape.

Here are a few photos of the last time I was in Santa Maria, cutting oak wood for BBQ and firewood. I just want you all to know that my two uncles here are in their 70s. I had a hard time keeping up with these two.

We are pulling in to the site where we are going to cut some trees!!

My Uncle Johnny, who is closing in on 80 when this picture was taken, getting the gear ready.

 He's got his working clothes on and he is gung-ho to go.

That pile of brush in the middle is all the small branches that we cut from the larger limbs. We pile it all to keep the debris in one place. Helps with fire control.

 This shows the scale of the size of the oak trees in the area.

My Uncle Joe is surveying the area to pick out which trees we are going to cut. We just don't go and cut down any tree. We cut the larger ones that may be blocking the sun from the smaller ones. This thinning allows the smaller ones to grow faster.

My Uncle Johnny has his system down pat. He is the "equipment man".

Once everything is ready, then my uncles start cutting.

Gentlemen, start your engines!!!

 Just a couple of cranks should do it.

 First the lower limbs are cut.

 Thar' she goes!!!

Then those fallen limbs are cut to a certain preferred length before we go on to the next cut.

Now for the main trunks. See how my Uncle cut the front notch first. This controls which direction the trunk is going to fall.

 Here's another angle on that same cut.

 She's going down....Timberrrrr.....

 Well, I had to put the camera down and do some work. I couldn't let my uncles have all the fun. I love cutting wood. Here are some of the days results.

 A couple of "young men" in their 70s put in a hell of a days work. I wouldn't challenge these two.

Uncle Joe has his truck all loaded up from wood that was already dried from the last time he cut here. He uses this for firewood in the ole fireplace. I think he has two or three in his house.

 We did do some splitting also. Here I am with my Uncle Johnny.

 Though this is a blurry photo, I still like this photo of my Uncle Joe and me. These are great memories.

My Uncle Joe with his best friend. And you know how Jack Russells are, they never get tired.

Here is a pile of oak wood that we split on this outing. It will be left here to dry and picked up at a later date. Those chairs were for me. These guys don't sit. HeHe!!

 Servicing the splitter before we take off.

And of course, after a full day of cutting red oak, it is time for a little vino.

Hope you enjoyed this little post about cutting the red oak that powers our traditional Santa Maria BBQs. Without the oakwood, it would be just another regular "run of the mill" que.

That's just how it is.

Here are a few web sites about the history of Santa Maria BBQ:

Until next time....

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