Fourth of July barbecue: Rancho Llano Seco ribs on the Big Green Egg


We smoked Rancho Llano Seco pork ribs from Chico “low and slow” on the Big Green Egg for “friends and family” this Fourth of July weekend. We gathered in Nevada City.

We smoked the ribs over big chunks of hickory for about 3 1/2 hours. I rounded out the meal with homemade potato salad, cole slaw (an Emeril Lagasse recipe) and “Santa Maria-style” barbecue beans (Appaloosa heirloom beans, also from Llano Seco).

Llano Seco’s ribs are among my favorites — much tastier than most “store-bought” brands. The family farm is located south of Chico. We buy direct from the Rancho, but we’ve found them at BriarPatch, Cal Organics and Eric  Veldman Miller’s V. Miller Meats in Sacramento (a wonderful butcher who knows the owner of Three Forks Bakery and Brewing Co. in Nevada City).

“Llano Seco was originally a conventional farm, its main crop being walnuts,” according to the FoodCraft Institute. “With a passion for pork, Charlie Thieriot took the helm at his childhood stomping grounds. In its 6th generation of gentle land stewardship, the family continues to explore and preserve Llano Seco’s richness. “

As it turns out, this is the same family that used to co-own The Chronicle. (Dick Thierot, whom I knew and worked for, was the publisher during much of my 12-year tenure at The Chronicle; Charlie, whom I’ve never met, was not involved in the newspaper).

In a column in 2000, Jon Carroll mentioned Rancho Llano Seco: “I spent last weekend up on the Sacramento River, staying at a place called Llano Seco, the largest Spanish land-grant rancho still under single ownership. The property has long been controlled by Dick Thieriot.

“They were not there, but people who knew them were. I learned about Dick Thieriot the enlightened landowner, the duck hunter who became an environmentalist, who turned his property over to the Department of Fish and Game (state) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (federal) and the Nature Conservancy (private); who participated in experiments in habitat restoration; who created wetlands for wildlife; who acted as a visionary long before it was considered useful or popular.”

Another former owner, Nan McEvoy, launched McEvoy Ranch, which makes award-winning olive oil. We also enjoy McEvoy’s olive oil.

This newspaper-foodie connection is somewhat by coincidence. (In fact, Dick Thierot and Nan McEvoy were at odds as owners, and the newspaper wound up being sold to Hearst Corp.) But it shows the growth of the “foodie”culture in California. After all, Dick and Nan had the real estate — his in the Central Valley and hers in Marin County.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

4 thoughts on “Fourth of July barbecue: Rancho Llano Seco ribs on the Big Green Egg”

  1. OMG Jeff, you really ought to open your own restaurant.
    Or if you ever need a job as a personal chef . . . call me.

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