Chilebrown at home

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"gawrsh!" , "ah-hyuck!" , "hoo hoo hoo hoo!",

It is Ms. Goofy's Birthday this weekend. We are traveling to Lake Tahoe California to celebrate. We are going to have fun in the snow, gamble, see a show and eat in some high faulitin restaurants. It is snowing as I verse. Once we make it over the mountain pass we will celebrate this glorious occasion. We also are throwing in a couple of 'Meat Adventures' on the way back. Talk to you soon!

Monday, March 29, 2010


It was another beautiful Spring day. It was a good excuse to makes some Aritchoke heart and Asparagus pizza. The sauce was a grilled green salsa. This roasted salsa had tomatillas, green onions, white onions 'California Long Hots' and garlic. This was spring at its tasty best. I think leftover pizza would be perfect for lunch.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Today we will have a taste test using two different Kingsford charcoal briquettes. We are comparing the Competition versus the Original brand charcoal. Two chickens seasoned only with salt and pepper will be baked in a kettle grill. They will be cooked exactly the same amount of time and with equal amounts of charcoal. Some maple cranberry bacon corn bread will be cooked in a Dutch oven using the Competition brand charcoal. Let’s recap the burn test and start cooking.

The Competition charcoal ignited very fast and spiked with heat. The Original charcoal took longer to light but eventually surpassed the Competition in heat and longevity. How will this play out in a controlled kettle cooker environment? Seventy five Original charcoals were lit in a chimney starter. It took approximately 20 minutes to achieve an ash over the coals. They were spread evenly over the floor of a Weber kettle. The chicken was sitting on a throne of a ‘Weber Poultry Roaster”. {The Weber Poultry Roaster is a must have item. You will never buy a store bought rotisserie chicken ever again after using one of these. It is so easy. Season the chicken; build a fire, one hour later you have one killer roasted bird.}. One hour later the chicken was cooked. The kettle was cooled and we repeated the process with the Competition charcoals. The Competition charcoals were ready to cook in only 13 minutes.

After one hour both chickens were properly cooked. The chicken cooked with the Original charcoal had a nice brown skin. The Competition bird was properly cooked but did not have the crisp brown skin that we crave. A thermometer showed that the Original charcoal held a pretty even heat of 375 degrees for the hour. The Competition spiked at 400 degrees but dropped fairly fast to about 360 degrees.


Some corn bread was cooked in the Dutch Oven using the Competition charcoal I was a little concerned because towards the end the charcoal looked pretty spent. The cornbread only has a 40 minute cooking time. The cornbread was cooked properly but once again it did not have the browning effect that we crave.

Both the chickens and the cornbread were tasty. The Competition charcoal was an under achiever in my opinion. It lit fast and spiked in heat but did not come through in the home stretch. We would have had to use more Competition charcoal to achieve the same effect as the Original. I do not really see any advantage to using this charcoal. If I was using this in a Dutch oven competition I would have to adjust my fuel usage. One important question that was not addressed was price. I am not sure if this charcoal is priced higher than the original. If I have a choice, I will stick to the old faithful Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquets.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


‘Kingsford Competition’ charcoal briquets are a new companion product to the 'Kingsford Original', ‘Blue bag’ “K” charcoal. It is not really a new product. It has been out for over a year but this is the first time I have seen it offered in the Bay Area. We picked up a couple of bags at our local warehouse store. We are going to conduct an unscientific comparison of ‘Kingsford Competition’ v ‘Kingsford Original’. We will have a burn test to see how fast, hot and long they will burn. Next weekend we will conduct a taste test. Does one burn faster or hotter? Will we notice a difference in flavor? This should be interesting.

What is so different about the ‘Competition’ charcoal? The regular briquettes have had the same profile since 2006. This was supposed to be an improvement from the old Kingsford charcoal. These new charcoal had grooves stamped on the surface to improve air flow for lighting and burning. This year the regular briquettes have been changed slightly again. The grooves are deeper and longer. The ‘Competition’ briquettes are not supposed to replace the regular but are meant to be a companion. What does that mean? What is so different about the Competition? This is what ‘Kingsford has released about the ‘Competition’

• "...high heat that's ready to cook on fast for grilling, searing or slow cooking."
• "Lasts The Same As A 15 lb Kingsford Original Bag"
• "...Kingsford's latest innovation."
• "These new briquets offer a unique combination of the high heat associated with lump charcoal and the consistent burn of briquets..."
• "100% All Natural"
• "High Heat"
• "Ready to Cook on Fast"
• "Kingsford Competition Briquets do burn hotter than Kingsford Original charcoal."
• "The Competition Briquets will be ready to cook on faster, so be ready to place your food on a little earlier than with Kingsford Original."

We weighed 8 briquettes of both brands. The Competition weighed out at 6 ounces. The Original was 2 ounces heavier at 8 ounces. The Competition briquettes were smooth and consistently shaped. The Original was rough and some briquettes were missing little chunks of material. The next step in our observation would be ignition of these 16 pillows of charcoal. We decided to soak a paper towel in lighter fluid and place at the bottom of the briquette stack. The only problem is I do not use lighter fluid. Luckily my neighbor loaned me some of his mesquite flavored lighter fluid. Every 15 minutes, I would point a laser thermometer at the middle of the stack and take a reading. Let’s step into the Ring of Fire, the Ring of Fire.


800 degrees, 00:15 minutes, 512 degrees
910 degrees, 00 :30 minutes, 850 degrees
880 degrees, 00 :45 minutes, 820 degrees
690 degrees, 1:00 minutes, 780 degrees
606 degrees, 1:15 minutes, 650 degrees
510 degrees, 1:30 minutes, 550 degrees
400 degrees, 1:45 minutes, 500 degrees

Fifteen minutes passed and the Competition had a nice layer of ash and was already at 800 degrees while the Original was still igniting and only registered 512 degrees. The Regular caught up in the next 15 minutes. It then held and beat the competition for heat and longevity. One hour and forty five minutes I stopped taking measurements. The Competition looked pretty spent but was still putting off some heat. The Original looked like it had a way to go.

The Competition charcoal was ready to cook faster and had an initial higher heat. This might be good if you need to cook a steak fast. There are so many other questions that need to be answered. Do these charcoals give a different flavor to your protein? We will examine that in the next post. Will the competition charcoal give a consistent heat in a controlled air environment? (smoker or any cooker with air control). How about using them with a Dutch Oven? This weekend we will try to answer some of these questions. We are looking forward to the taste test. See y'all later!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Today is the official first day of spring. It is a beautiful sunny day in California. It is a perfect day to fire up the bbq. Asparagus is priced under a dollar a pound at the local Wally Mart. The hardest decision is what to barbeque today. What a dilemma.

Friday, March 19, 2010


The first trial run of the Stoker has been completed. Last night an eight pound boneless pork shoulder was placed in the 'Weber Smokey Mountain cooker. All the Stoker probes were inserted and positioned in their proper place. I used my 'Nu-temp' thermometers as a back up and to verify temperatures. The cooking process started at 8:00 pm last night. The pit temperature was set at 245 degrees. Both the Stoker and the Nu-temp were in sync. I stayed up and watched re-runs of Captain Kangaroo. It just kills me when Mr. Moose tells his 'knock-knock' jokes.

I turned in around 1100 pm and tried to get some sleep. It was like Christmas Eve waiting for Santa. I wanted to get up and check the new toy. I did get up once just to make sure it was still cooking and take a photo. At 600 am. the Stoker alarm went off. The butt had reached the internal temperature of 190 degrees. The butt looked fantastic. Not once did I have to do anything to the smoker. The Stoker worked like a charm.

Well it is 700 am and I think I need to take a nap. Later today we will makes some rolls and some Cole slaw. We are going to use a vinegar/pepper sauce and have some sandwiches. The stoker has passed its first test. I have not hooked it up to the computer yet. Eventually it will be wireless and on the web. It is a little involved in the set-up and I will probably need some help. There will be plenty of time for more smoking later. Goodnight!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

joe’s #1 jalapa

Ol’ Benito is on center stage today. We will be entertained by some “joe’s #1 jalap”. This should be fun. It is the beginning of spring and a green jalapeno hot sauce should be the perfect compliment to the fresh artichokes, asparagus and other vegetables of the season. Did I ever tell you I love artichokes?

P.S. Here is a picture of my parents in their television debut. They are in the audience of the "Yan Can Cook" show. (1980's)

Sunday, March 14, 2010


We are "Movin on up" in the barbeque world. We have noticed that most competitive barbeque teams use the Stoker. The Stoker is a high tech system to control your pit fire with consistency. You have this device that will monitor the internal temperature of your pit and will activate a fan to raise or lower the heat. This unit will also watch for your target temperature of your meat. It will explode with bells and whistles to let you know the meat is done. You can hook up multiple smokers and have different target meats. One fancy option, is this unit can be controlled and monitored by your laptop. With a little tinkering you can even set it up to be wireless. We can go to Starbucks and control our barbeque.



We received our Stoker this weekend. It was pouring rain so a trial run will have to wait for next week. We are stoked about having the Stoker. When it is all set and running, Ms. Goofy will be very happy. No longer will she have to get up in the middle of the night to tend the fire. I can monitor my pork butts from the salt mine. Yes, we are moving on up.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


We took the new Thermapen out for a test spin. It was pouring rain and Ms. Goofy got a little wet starting the barbeque fire. A corned beef brisket was on the menu tonight. The new thermometer worked like a charm. We also had piece of mind because of the Thermapen's safety feature of "Biomaster anti-bacterial additive". Some fresh Asparagus was thrown on the fire to top off this meat extravaganza. Oh boy! How come everything off the grill tastes so good?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


The latest addition to the Chilebrown arsenal of kitchen gadgets is the 'Super-Fast Thermapen' digital thermometer.. This tool is a must have item for any serious cook. This is a fast, accurate way to determine the temperature of all your grilled meat products. The readings are given in 3 seconds. The Thermapen is water resistant in case you have spillage of an adult beverage. The Thermapen includes 'Biomaster anti-bacterial additive. This is very important, for what?, I have no clue. The battery life claims 1500 hours. That is a lot of meat to check.

The Thermapen is not a gadget. It is an important tool in our kitchen. This is the judge and jury of meat preparation. We have used numerous other thermometers. Some have been good and some just plain cheap. This is the Cadillac of meat thermometers. We are going to give it a test on some grilled corned beef this weekend.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


It was 'Pig Day" at the Davis, California farmers market. How could one resist? We loaded up the Chilebrown bus with the Reverend Biggles, Ms. Goofy and Chilebrown (designated back seat driver). It was a swift 50 minute drive to Davis. Davis is the home of the University of California at Davis. U.C.D. is famous for their veterinary school and has the only operating table in the world that can accommodate an elephant.

We bought produce and a beautiful pork roast from 'Bledsoe Meats'. Dr. Biggles took a survey on how many Co-Eds were wearing ''Uggs'. A lot of people were wearing pig attire. It was a festive atmosphere. We left the Davis Farmers market with asparagus, artichokes, apples, pork and Dr. Biggles smile.

Monster Pork Roast & Dr. Biggles

This pork roast was a monster. We divided it into three portions and stuck one on the fire. We took it out at 148 degrees after several suggestions on either side of the temperature coin. It was very tasty but a little overdone for our taste. Ms. Goofy whipped up some asparagus risotto. Some baby artichokes were simmered with lemon, wine, olive oil and salt. This was a scrumptious end to a fun day at 'Pig Day'



There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. At least I found a golden nugget at our local Mexican store. This nugget is a bacon lover’s treat. It is ‘Chicharon Compresado. This was the ultimate food find in our own backyard. What is’ Chicharon Compresado’? It is pork belly that has been deep fried in oil, cooled and put into a compress. The compress and cooking removes a lot of the excess fat. This leaves pure bacon goodness. Is it even possible this may be good for you? Well that may be stretching it.

This nugget was found at Valley Produce Market in Pinole, California. They have a great meat market. Victor the owner’s son runs the meat market. He makes this Bacon concoction on the premise. He told me that his Chicharon Compresado is unique because he uses the meaty portion of the belly. He offered several suggestions on serving and cooking with the Chicharon. Victor has a great selection of meats and poultry in his market. He will custom cut or slice any meat your heart desires. This is my connection for spareribs. He trims them to mimic baby backs. Today Chicharon was in my shopping cart.

This meat brick is fully cooked. We tried a slice with some Sierra Nevada beer. It has a wonderful pork flavor. It is not salty and has no smoke flavor. The texture is firm with a little chew. This makes a great appetizer. Victor suggested cubing the Chicharon and using it in a stir fry. This sounded good to us. We added some vegetables (of course asparagus) and served it over rice. This is what the doctor ordered. We are converts to our new food find. ‘Chicharon Compresado” has been at our doorstep just waiting to come in. “Come on in!!!

Valley Produce Market
1590 San Pablo av.
Pinole Ca. 94564
510 (724-9579)

Friday, March 5, 2010


Spring is our favorite time for Vegetables. Artichokes and Asparagus are our special guests on the dinner table. What beverage goes with these rewards of spring? The first answer is: “The best beer is the one in front of me”. If we have a choice, a nice ‘Sierra Nevada’ is always a treat. Today we have procured a “Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale”. This 6.7 percent alcohol by volume, top fermenting yeast, “Cascade and Centennial” wet hops from Yakima Washington, is a powerful tasting and very ‘Hoppy’ beer. It is a perfect pairing with some raw Asparagus and a piece of ‘Chicharon Compresado’.

You may ask what Chicharon Compresado is? You will have to stay tuned. I will give you a hint that it is a pork belly product made in heaven.

We have consumed our beer and snacks. We are ready to dance. We have a favorite tune at the Chilebrown house hold. Take a listen. I am not sure of all the words, but I can guess he is singing about Spring and Asparagus.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Last Sunday was a great day at the Marin Farmers market. We ran into two of our favorite vendors. Chris from Zukerman Farms had some wonderful fresh asparagus. This is the official vegetable of Spring in our book. We purchased a couple of pounds of the largest spears he had. Thick is better. They are more tender and flavorful. In theory the thinner spears get wind blown, hence they become tougher. We also ran into Larry from Peppahead. He is the 'Picasso of the Pepper World'. Larry had some Bhut Jokolia powder to sell today. This is an extreme pepper that is not for the pepper novice. This pepper originated in India and is 5 times hotter than the habanero pepper. We took a tiny, tiny taste and were rewarded with a huge rush of heat. Chris broke out into a sweat when he sampled this powder from Hell. We purchased some 'Yuppie, Marin, Grass Fed, beef ribs from 'Marin Sun Farms'. We took our bounty home and fired up the barbeque.

The asparagus was wrapped in some home made buckboard bacon. It was sprinkled with some olive oil, salt & pepper, lemon juice and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. The ribs were rubbed with salt and pepper. Both the ribs and the bacon wrapped asparagus received a very light dusting of Bhut Joklia powder. You really need to be careful with this powder. Everything was cooked on a mesquite charcoal fired Weber kettle grill.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the flavor of the grass fed beef ribs. 'Grass Fed' beef has not been my meat of choice. The beef was very tender and had a beefy taste. The flavor stood out and satisfied a corn fed beef lover. The chile powder created a very warm glow over both the dishes. The buckboard bacon wrapped asparagus made me feel so good that I hugged myself. A lot of Asparagus will be consumed while the season lasts. Bring on the Spears!