Chilebrown at home

Thursday, May 31, 2012


We all have our hero’s who influence and inspire. Harry Soo is a BBQ competitor and guru of all meats smoked. Teacher, competitor, father, T.V. personality, and philosopher Harry wears many hats. Harry Soo has dialed in the right formula to win multiple BBQ competitions. Harry takes an analytical approach to his victories . He will use data such as cooking times, recipes, and presentation technique to determine the optimal formula to create the winning barbeque equation. The wonderful thing about Harry is that he shares this information. Harry teaches barbeque classes and will always offer some advice. He may hold back on some of his ultimate secrets but wouldn’t you. Harry also has an attitude about barbeque that is refreshing and motivating. Below is an excerpt from an interview with Harry from ‘Burn Blog’

Burn! Blog: You’ve said your objective is to spread happiness through barbecue. Why barbecue for that instead of something else? What about barbecue makes you happy?

HS: “I roamed this planet for 50 years wondering what was my purpose in life. Is it just to live a comfortable life or is there something more? Mrs. Walton said ‘It’s not what you gather that’s important but what you give away.’ I’ve been given this talent at a late age in life and I know in my heart that I have this talent, because it is really a means to my real ends, which is to spread happiness by sharing my barbecue skill and knowledge.
  It doesn’t matter how many zeros you have in your bank account, how many cars or houses you own, as all these are temporary. We all are headed to the same place and when you get there, you can’t take any of these material things with you. When people tell me they don’t feel loved, I ask them when was the last time they gave love. All that goes around comes around and you won’t receive love if you don’t give it first. BBQ is a pure form of giving sincere love. If you cook it from your heart, you are spreading love.
At the moment of reckoning, we realize that there are only 3 things that are important because they are eternal: 1) love – the experience to receive love and give love, 2) memories of all the good times, 3) relationships we cultivated with friends, family, and pets. When I cook BBQ, I feel happy and I connect heart to heart with my students or CBJs (Certified Barbecue Judges) as I transfer my positive energy into the food I cook.

We all need a hero. Harry Soo fills the bill with shining stars. He motivates me to achieve barbeque greatness. Harry is a passionate and driven man. He is an inspiration. Wow!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


The wind has vanished and the skies are blue. The BBQ competitors say their cooking went smoother last night thanks to the absence of the breeze. Yesterday was just a warm-up for today’s barbeque battle. Ms. Goofy and I still have a smile on our face from yesterday’s sampling and scoring of some fantastic smoked meats. Eating bbq two days in a row may be a stretch for some but it is a pleasure for us. You must learn to pace yourself. A good healthy bite out of each sample is required. It is so tempting to take that second and third nibble.  If we ate all the meats that were presented to us it would be approximately six pounds total. Oh my!

Was it the wind or yesterdays warm-up? Today’s turn-in of meat was spectacular. I have never had such tasty brisket. Beefy, tender, and sometimes a burnt end thrown in had me swooning with meaty delight. Scoring a nine is the highest score a judge can give. I could have had a rubber 9 stamp to use on my scorecard. I will admit that I took that second and third nibble today.

There was a good crowd enjoying the eats and music. Lots of happy shoppers strolled the venue while being treated to some fun music. The ice cream booth was tempting but I did not have any more notches left on my belt. We (I) were so full we did not even visit the microbrewery. (A Chilebrown first)

Today the Grand Champion was the team of “Woodhouse BBQ”. Congratulations to Woodhouse and everybody involved in this event. What a great day! Brentwood sure knows how to throw a BBQ event. I think I am starting to get hungry.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Mother Nature shined on the first day of the ‘Blues Brews & BBQ’ event in Brentwood California. There was a slight breeze to keep the competitors on their watch to produce award winning barbeque. Today Scott & Pam Hares of the “Too Ashamed to Name” competition barbeque team took the walk to the platform and claimed the ‘Grand Champion”. The combined scores from the four meat categories; chicken, pork ribs, pork and brisket propelled them to the top. Ms. Goofy and I were privileged to help score these meaty entries. We can both attest that this was some of the best barbeque that we have ever had.

Children are an important factor of this barbeque equation proven by this home made booth sign. The young artist is a future barbeque competitor. This event has something for everybody. A car show with vintage and custom showings lined the side of the venue. Crafts booths with a farmer selling cherries were ripe for your shopping pleasure. These booths were surrounded by some of Brentwood’s finest boutique and chain stores. You could shop to you drop.

There was plenty to eat today. There was a ‘People Choice’ category for the public to sample the competitor’s offerings. If that did not float your boat there was everything from hot dogs to pizza and ice cream. We are waiting for the KCBS to add a pizza category to the competition. This pizza rig was standing by just in case.. I will not mention the Microbrewery that was a block away. Of course plenty of ice cold Sierra Nevada beer was available for consumption.

One of the best things about this competition is we get to repeat it again today. Yes, if you missed the festivities yesterday there is still time to eat, shop, listen to Blues and enjoy a barbeque day in Brentwood. Hope to see you there.

Blues Brews & BBQ

Thursday, May 24, 2012


It is that time of year to stock up on charcoal briquettes for the BBQ season. Our local large chain home supply store always discounts charcoal for the Memorial Weekend. We take advantage of this charcoal bonanza. A double bag of Kingsford brand briquettes, 13.9 pounds, set us back $ 5.88. Last year the double bag was two 20 pound bags. It is still the best price of the year and we purchased 278 pounds of these compressed fuel rounds. Does that sound like a lot? Not really, because we love to barbeque. I hope it lasts to 2013.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Brentwood PAL presents "Blues, Brews & BBQ's" at THE STREETS is a two day festival to be held May 26th-27th 2012. This event is free to the public. Included in the weekend of activities is the "Bad to the Bone" car show on Saturday and Sunday. Live music Saturday and Sunday starting at 11am, both days include a sanctioned KCBS & CBBQA BBQ event featuring Pork, Ribs, Brisket and Chicken. These professional competitive cooks will be competing for a prize package of over $18000.
Come out and taste the Great BBQ & cast your Vote for the People's Choice Awards at 12:00 pm Saturday.

Ms. Goofy and I will be judging and hope you can make it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


This is a true story except for the parts that are not. Beef ribs are my favorite rib of choice. We were traveling on the train to Bellefontaine playing Parcheesi with Marmaduke Gunk. She suggested a dinner of beef ribs. The only problem is finding meaty ribs. The best beef ribs are usually reserved for restaurants. Our local Wally-Mart had some nice looking ribs that I could not resist. A quick trim of fat and membrane with a dusting of rub was our only preparation for our trusty smoker. A combination of hickory and apple wood will be the smoke flavor today. Five hours in a smoker set at 225 degrees transformed these ribs into meat candy.

We are harvesting fresh peas daily. For the next two weeks we are experiencing ‘Whirled Peas’ that are the sweetest treat ever. Today we served these green orbs of pleasure with pasta that was new to us. It was spinach chow mein noodle that we found at our local International Market. Some ‘Damn Fine Bacon’ coated the bottom our pan and provided a little bacon love. Onions, garlic, tomato was simmered with the bacon. The peas were added at the last minute to briefly touch the heat. This was all tossed with pasta and numerous cheeses from Ms. Goofy’s cheese vault.

Sweet, sticky, smoky, beef ribs with peas and pasta. This is how we role on most weeknights. Peas pass the beef ribs Marmaduke Gunk!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Pretty Dog Hot Sauce has created a very flavorful and tasty hot sauce. Lemons, Greek oregano, olive oil and peppers melt together to form a Greek style sauce.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012


This was an adventure in futility and perseverance. ‘Double D BBQ’ is a small barbeque restaurant located in Oakland, California. They have a reputation for having some of the best BBQ in town. They are only open 4 days a week with limited hours and even then are known for not always being open. To complicate the scenario they are in a location that is not easily found. Our first attempt at going to Double D BBQ we could not even find it. We had the address but no GPS.(1240 1st Av.) Simple enough address but not easily found in the maze of the numbered streets of the area. My second attempt was on a Wednesday during their posted hours. I was in the area and had a Google map in hand. Closed! Several weeks later on a Thursday I was shut down again. Double D BBQ has a cult following and we wanted to know what all the buzz was about. This time we called and they were open.

We found Double D BBQ with out a hiccup. It is located on a small street on a small lot between two tall buildings. You would never stumble across this location unless you were looking for it. Once inside, it looks like an old style burger joint. It is decorated in ‘Oaktown’ specific kitsch. An Oakland Raider fan would feel comfortable here. Yes, we are Raider fans and we loved the vibration. The menu is small with the four meats, links and a couple of sides. We placed our orders. Ms. Goofy ordered her pulled pork sandwich and I a combination of brisket and ribs.  It was a beautiful day to take advantage of the outdoor seating area located on the side of the building. This area was colorfully decorated with plants and urban style murals. Our food was brought to our table.

It was time to see what all the hype was about. How did it taste? Dr. Biggles used to tell me; “You can have the best BBQ meal in your life and come back three hours later and have the worst meal ever”. Timing can be everything for good bbq. We must have hit it at the wrong time. The brisket was full of gristle and fat. It was overdone to the point of being mushy. No bark, lack of seasoning and to top it off no smoke flavor. The ribs were not much better. The meat was overcooked, no smoke, and I received the end piece that is full of little bones and cartilage. My side was Cole Slaw. It was full of big chunks of black pepper but not salt. It was dry and lifeless.  Ms. Goofy’s pulled pork was decent but she said all she could taste was the sauce.

The highlight of this meal was the sauce. This was a sweet tomato based sauce with good seasoning and just the right amount of heat. Maybe we came at the wrong time. When is the right time and when will they be open? Double D BBQ was a disappointment. There are too many good barbeque restaurants to make the effort to return.

1240 1st St
.Oakland, Ca. 94606

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


It is several days away from harvest. I have been guilty of sneaking a taste of these immature peas. They  are so sweet they taste like green candy. For now I can only Visualize Whirled Peas.

Monday, May 7, 2012


It was one of those lazy days. We just did not feel like firing up the BBQ or turning on the stove. It was time to visit the ‘Texas Roadhouse’. There are numerous locations of this franchised establishment located throughout the country. We walked through the door and were greeted with a refrigerated case of hand-cut steaks to view. You can choose the beef that strikes your fancy and it will be grilled to your liking. We also noticed a big barrel of peanuts surrounded with spent shells on the floor. The restaurant was decorated with a cowboy/western theme. We were seated immediately and presented with some buttery still warm dinner rolls. I know Texas Roadhouse is famous for their steaks but they also claim to serve ‘Fall-Off-The-Bone-Ribs”. The barbeque judge in me ordered the ribs.

A very nice salad preceded our entrĂ©e. The plate of ribs was delivered and they looked delicious. These ribs were ‘fall off the bone’ to the point you could not actually pick up a rib with a bone. If you are familiar with Kansas City Barbeque Society rules, you will know that these ribs would be considered overcooked. These ribs had been steamed or boiled before they were put on a grill and slathered with sauce. They did have a good flavor and I devoured them.
    The Texas Roadhouse is a fun and inviting restaurant. Their menu is large and will have something for everybody. Our server was prompt and cheerful. The ribs are not competition worthy but are tasty. It is kind of fun to throw peanut shells on the floor.  We will return to the ‘Texas Roadhouse’ to try their hand-cut steak.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Chef JP is an accomplished chef who shares his recipes on "The Chef from Hell". Chef JP had a special recipe for Vidalia onion pie. Ms. Goofy procured these sweet bulbs of Vidalia for our pie. Onions, butter, sweet Madeira wine eggs and cheese was cradled in a crust of ‘Ritz Crackers’. . We accompanied our pie with a chicken breast studded with asparagus, cheese and prosciutto.  Thanks Chef JP.

The Chef from Hell

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Bacon honey of course, why not? The ‘Heirloom Honey’ company of Central Valley California has taken raw honey and infused it with ‘Natural’ flavors. With over 25 different flavors, bacon caught my eye. We were at the Asparagus festival and found the Heirloom Honey booth. I asked the vendor what is natural bacon flavor? She explained it was natural flavor from bacon. I should have known. We purchased this honey and also an amaretto flavored honey.

We have returned home and are inspecting our honey purchase. You will notice in the above image the white streaks at the top of the honey bottle. We are assuming that this is the natural bacon flavor. Is it possible that these streaks may be wonderful, flavorful bacon fat? Ms. Goofy baked some of her special rolls for this special tasting. The rolls were still warm while we slathered them with butter. A big scoop of bacon honey was applied to Ms. Goofy’s buns.

This honey is really good. Raw honey has a fresh sweet comforting flavor. Did it taste like bacon? No, not really. There was a slight flavor of smoke. I tried closing my eyes and thinking of bacon. It still just tasted like good honey with a hint of smoke. We were not disappointed with the honey but it did not deliver bacon flavor.

Heirloom Honey
559 618-0964

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


To be a guest at the exclusive club, “Under the Bridge”, was a welcome invitation. Meetings are held once a month at the ‘Crockett Bass Club”, located right under the Carquinez Bridge. Fishing, food, adult beverages, sports, camaraderie and more food is the purpose of this Men’s only fraternity. Usually there is a food theme for each meeting. This month home made sausage was the goal. After receiving my ticket to this event the sausage stuffer was put into action. My contribution was a pork sausage with roasted ‘New Hatch’ peppers.

It just so happened that pork shoulder was on sale at Wally-Mart. Shoulder has the perfect fat to meat ration for sausage. This meat was run through the Kitchen-Aid meat grinder on a course grind. Some roasted ‘New Hatch New Mexican’ green chile was taken out of the ‘Chilebrown Ice Cave’ and thawed. Cilantro and garlic was pureed with the peppers that had the skins, stems and some seeds removed. This was all mixed together with spices and stuffed into casings.

Once at the meeting, I found out the members were actually making sausage at the club. They had a meat grinder and sausage stuffer working at full speed. The kitchen had been transformed into a sausage factory. We had quit the assortment of meats and spices. Some of the meats were: wild turkey, chicken, prime rib, pork, and tri-tip. This was a hands on experience. Everybody pitched in to the process. We mixed and matched different meats and spices to create numerous varieties of sausage. It is a good thing there were a lot of cold beverages to keep us hydrated.

It was time to fire up the grill. The menu was simple. Numerous sausages, mustard and rolls were it. I did bring a couple of spears of asparagus to throw on the grill. One can only eat so much but we tried to exceed that limit. With a beautiful blue sky framing the Bridge it was a great day being under it. My invitation has been extended to next month and the theme is Pizza. Oh Yeah!