Fire up those grills for this delicious, flavorful Santa Maria grilled chicken with a roasted tomato salad.
If there is one thing the Central Coast of California is known for, it’s Santa Maria barbecue. Nestled between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo lies a generous wine region, but long before the grapes were planted these rolling hills were home to grazing cattle. While we can’t always emulate traditional Santa Maria style barbecue to perfection as it generally requires meat to be cooked over red or live oak, we can master the flavor. Keep your sauce in the cabinet because all that’s required here is a dry rub. While you’ll see lots of varying recipes on the web for an authentic Santa Maria seasoning, it generally consists of salt, pepper and garlic powder. What you choose to add from there, though it should be minimal, is up to you. Although infamous for their tri-tip, this seasoning works wonderfully when applied to grilled chicken and served with a roasted tomato salad.
Beyond the simplistic flavor and traditional cooking methods that make up Santa Maria barbecue, it’s best enjoyed in the gathering of friends and family. While the weather is still nice, fire up those grills as meats tend to taste better when cooked and enjoyed outdoors. As they say, the concept was started when ranchers fed their cowboys under the oak trees with a good meal placed in front of them and a long hard days work behind them.
Santa Maria Grilled Chicken with Roasted Tomato Salad
- 2 bone-in chicken breasts or thighs
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1-2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup vine tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups fresh arugula
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
Ingredients for Santa Maria Seasoning:
- 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried parsley (or fresh parsley, minced)
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the Santa Maria seasoning. Liberally apply to both sides of the chicken breasts and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
- About an hour before planning to serve, heat the oven to 425°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
- Once all the tomatoes are halved and onion is chopped, place onto the lined baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
- Roast for 40-45 minutes.
- Fire up the grill to medium-high heat. The dry rub will help prevent some sticking, but feel free to apply some oil to the grates if necessary. Cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side until the internal temperature reaches between 150°-165°. Don’t overcook the chicken or it will be dry.
- Serve roasted tomatoes and onion over a bed of arugula with the chicken breast.
While the cowboys back in the day probably didn’t get to enjoy their barbecue with a nice glass of Pinot Noir, it’s the best and only way to serve it up now. It’s like you can picture yourself saddled up under a long oak table, the Santa Maria grilled chicken and roasted tomatoes placed in front of you, a glass of Cambria Wines Benchbreak Pinot Noir in your hand and laughter fills in the air. You’re enjoying the best of what the Central Coast has to offer all in one sitting. That’s living at its finest right there.
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Written By : Kristin Mansky