Chilebrown at home

Monday, December 31, 2012


‘Sometimes you feel like a nut sometimes you don’t.” ‘Blue Diamond Almonds Habanero BBQ’ flavored nuts showed up in my Christmas stocking this festive day. Did Blue Diamond make this flavor just for me? Spicy hot & fruity habaneros combined with bbq has me sold even before the top has been popped. Let’s give them a taste.


Almonds, vegetable oil, (canola safflower and or sunflower), sugar, salt, tomato, molasses, powder (Cane refinery syrup, molasses) vinegar powder, (maltodextrin, vinegar solids) onion, garlic, natural smoke flavor (contains soybean oil) yeast extract, habanero chile pepper, mustard, malic acid, spices and extractive of paprika are the long list of ingredients. We are also informed that this is peanut free and may contain other tree nuts.
The top is popped and freshly roasted almond aroma starts the anticipation glands to kick in. Immediately a handful was placed in my awaiting snack food receptacle. WOW!!! Are you ready for this not so original take; ‘There was a party in my mouth”. Sweet, onions, tomato/paprika, mustard, tomato with a hint of smoke all collided and melded on a crunchy almond. They were so salty good. A tiny small hint of heat finished off this flavor bomb almond treat. I really wanted to taste the fruity habanero sting but was only teased. There is a problem with this product. Once you start eating the almonds it is almost impossible to stop.


This ingredients list habanero chile peppers but a light hand is used. The heat meter will barely tip the scale to 1 star out of 5.


I admit that I have always been a fan of Blue Diamond Almonds. It is hard to go wrong with fresh, salty flavored almonds. Habanero BBQ is just another great flavor to snack on. The sweet, smoky flavor with just a tease of peppers is a success. Of course my inner Chilehead persona wants some more heat but this snack delivers on all other levels. Thankyou  Santa Claus.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


 The weather has been relentless with its rain and low temperatures. The skies and our mood has been a little gray these winter days. We need a little color in our life. One of our favorite methods of injecting color is going to the farmers markets and enjoying the bounty of the winter crops. Rain or shine the farmers will be at the market. This is payday and rain will not dampen their efforts. We don our rain gear to participate in farmer’s market color immersion therapy. Let’s go to the market.

Our new favorite method of cooking these colorful cauliflowers is roasting in a hot barbeque chamber. Olive oil, salt and pepper is the only condiment necessary. An hour in the cooking chamber and a nutty, smoky treat will immerse. After enjoying this Kodachrome meal our life is once again full of color.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


It has been raining cats and dogs in this here parts. We still try to fire up the barbeque if possible. We wanted to try a new barbeque sauce and the weather just was not cooperating.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


We would like to wish all you ‘Mad Meat Genius’ readers a Merry Christmas. Another year has passed and the ‘Big Green Egg’ was not under the tree. A tear was wiped from my brow but Holiday cheer will prevail. That is because we have some Christmas Stollen from ‘Ponsford’s Place Bakery’. Stollen is traditional German holiday bread. Ponsford’s describes it as: STOLLEN Full of amazing Dried Fruits (not the fake stuff) (apples, cherries, apricot, cranberries, and raisins) that have been macerated with Lemon Zest, Rum,
Vanilla, almond paste, and some other trade secrets. ($10.00):

Ponsford’s Place Bakery is located in San Rafael California. It is a tiny little shop that is only open Friday & Saturday. They are unique because they use no processed white flour. All the baked goods are made with whole wheat flour. This can be a challenge and they have risen to the task. Ponsford’a offers not only stollen and breads but various savory items such as meat pies, quiche, turnovers and much more.

Scary Bread Santa
The stollen was sweet and satisfying. It definitely helped me through my yearly green disappointment. We are definitely returning to Ponsford’s Place to sample more of their offerings. “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

117 Shaver St.
San Rafael, Ca. 94909

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Dickey’s Barbeque pit was born in 1941 in Dallas Texas. Travis Dickey Sr. used to say; “Serve the best tastin’ barbecue imaginable, just the way people like it, and don’t make ‘em wait to long to get it. Today there are 280 locations in 43 states. It is amazing that I have never heard of this franchise until recently. In the name of BBQ research it will be our pleasure to venture to the Pleasant Hill Dickey’s and give them a try.

This Dickey’s is located in a small shopping strip. I have passed by this location many times without even noticing this establishment. We walk through the doors and are greeted by a large sign board listing the bbq and sides offerings. The walls have large pictures of maybe Travis Dicky himself. You place your order at the counter and your meal will be brought to your table. The menu is quit large. The four meats are offered with many combinations of sides.

Ribs and brisket are two items I usually order my first visit to a new BBQ restaurant. These two items are a good indicator of quality in my book. The ribs were not ready. They were not sold out of ribs which sometimes will happen. They were not ready at 12:15 pm right smack in middle of the prime time lunch period. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot. Maybe everything else is so good that, ribs, the most popular BBQ item is not necessary to enjoy Dickey’s. Enough of my temper tantrum, brisket and pulled pork will have to do.

We received our meals very promptly. Travis Dickey Sr. would be proud. The sauces are served in a self-serve warming station. Original, sweet, and hot are the offerings. I took a little sample of each. These sauces were not horribly awful but I would compare the hot barbecue sauce to a packet of Taco Bell hot sauce. The 'Sweet' was very sweet and the 'Original' was most likey the original recipe and that may be the problem. It was time to sample the brisket.
  This brisket was tender. It passed the pull test all too well. The texture and flavor was of pot roast. Not a pot roast that I would ever serve. I longed for a smoke ring or even a whiff of smoke. The bark was only a distant memory in my mind. I did see some scorch marks that may have been an artistic rendering of bark. Ms. Goofy had some pulled pork that did have a faint whiff of smoke flavor. I tried her pork for more disappointment. Sure it had a little smoke flavor but even the offered sauce could not resurrect this meat. Hopefully the sides will shine.

Barbequed beans that probably came straight from a can were very sweet with a hint of metallic. A decent home made roll and some Cole slaw was the highlight of my meal. Ms. Goofy liked her Mac & Cheese that posibly could of  have come out of a blue box
  Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is a fast serving barbecue establishment. If you are in a hurry and do not care about flavor or having ribs, this may be the place for you. I did like the house made roll and the Cole slaw did not suck too much. There may be a reason why we have never heard of this place.We will not return.

Dickey's Barbecue Pit

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Tis the season for craft Holiday street festivals in Bezerkely California. In the not so distant past Telegraph Avenue was a constant carnival of weirdness. Telegraph leads to the U.C. campus, the birthplace of the ‘Free Speech Movement’. Hippies & Yippies used to congregate and groove on this pathway to the campus. Today the street was lined with craftsmen and artisans selling their wares to Christmas shoppers. Gaze at the above image and you will see the sign that beckoned me to enlightenment. Bacon peanut brittle, how could I resist. I quickly left this enchanted land of kosmic, fabulous furry freaks brothers to sample my sweet treat.

‘Merrilyn’s Gourmet Fudge’ was the creator of this peanut brittle. This brittle was very thick. I used caution biting into this slab of buttery sugar so I would not crack a tooth. Bacon seemed a little scarce in this sugary treat. There was a slight bacon flavor that we had to search for.. We did notice a hit of salt most likely from the bacon. Bacon caught my attention but did not hold my interest. The sacrifices we make.

Merrilyn’s Gourmet Fudge
209 484-6417

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Otaez is the name of a small town in Durango, Mexico. Otaez is also the name of a popular Mexican restaurant in Oakland. The original location in the Fruitvale district has been a popular hangout for locals and the “5-0” police officers. Otaez opened this sister restaurant in Alameda to expand their popularity. Sleek and modern is the new location. A full bar and spacious dining area awaits a new crowd of Otaez diners. The original Otaez was always crowded and it was nice to get a seat immediately at this new location.

We were here to continue our search for the Ultimate Chile Verde. We placed our orders and sampled the two complimentary salsas. Pico de Gallo and a tomato and chile mix were the offerings. Both were mediocre and under seasoned. A splash of salt and possibly some heat was needed. A nice salad accompanied our lunch. It was topped with tortilla strips and our dressing came on the side as requested. Our entrees arrived very quickly even though we were dining at the peak of the lunch hour.

My large plate of chile verde arrived to the table steaming. This plate of green gold was accompanied by a basket of house made corn tortillas. Fresh tortillas are a plus in my book and they hit the mark. I dove into my plate of cubed pork and green chile gravy with gusto. The gravy/sauce was delicious. It had a little kick of heat from the fresh peppers. I want to venture that the heat was from Serrano peppers. This sauce was a good balance of tomatillas, peppers, cumin and cilantro. The cubed pork was a little chewy and not overly flavorful. The sauce made up for the extra gnawing and was sopped up with my yummy tortillas. Ms. Goofy had enchiladas and claimed mediocrity.

Otaez is a clean, modern, fast and inexpensive sister restaurant of the original. We enjoyed our lunch. The sauce of the chile verde was extraordinary. The fresh tortillas are comfort food that I crave. A bowl of sauce and tortillas would make me happy. Otaez is a nice restaurant but our quest for the Ultimate Chile Verde will continue.

1619 Webster St.
Alameda, California 9459
510 521-9090

Sunday, December 16, 2012


 We are going to transform some mundane pork chops, with specific technique, to the best pork chops you have ever had. We saw this method on a cooking show and wanted to duplicate it with Chilebrown flair. There are three basic steps; brine, cook on an indirect heat and finish on direct heat. Let’s start from the beginning. Go to your local butcher shop and ask for bone-in ‘Rib Chops’. These are from the loin and cut      1½ inch thick. Our beautiful chops were procured from D.C. Meat.

The brine is a basic salt & brown sugar solution. We use the guide of 1 tablespoon of sugar & salt per cup of water. You need enough solution to cover your chops. Let’s imagine you need six cups of brine to cover your chops. Take 6 tablespoons of sugar and 6 tablespoons of salt and heat in two cups of water till dissolved. When liquid is clear turn off heat and add 4 cups of ice and water to bring to room temperature. It is important that this solution is room temperature or cooler before you add your chops. Place in ice cave for several hours. We started in the morning for a total brining time of 6 hours. Do not brine for more than 12 hours because this will make your chops too salty. Remove chops from brine solution and rinse with cool water. Dry your chops and season. If you are using salt, have a light hand.

Take 3 bamboo skewers and impale chops in triangular pattern. You want the chops to sit upright on the bone. The bone will act as a natural roasting pan. You also want at least an inch between each chop so heat can circulate. Light a chimney full of 50 briquette charcoals. We are using a 22inch Weber kettle. We also have charcoal baskets to contain our charcoal. When charcoals are lit place 25 in each basket and place on opposite ends below grill grate. Place your chops in center of an oiled grill bone side down. Cover with lid and cook for 30 minutes. Do not be tempted to remove lid.
  After 30 minutes have passed remove lid and then remove skewers from chops. Place each chop on grill directly over lit charcoals. Now is the time to baste with your favorite barbeque sauce. We are using “Sartain’s ‘The Sauce’” today. (We have tried numerous sauces and Sartain’s is hands down one of our favorites.) Cook chops till internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Do not overcook. Let meat rest and then enjoy.
  This technique takes a little time and effort. The results are stellar. We had some of the most juicy flavorful, ‘Best Pork Chops Ever”.

Friday, December 14, 2012


“Hurry, Hurry, Step Right Up”. Welcome to this episode of the ‘Bacon Revue’.  Belcampo Meat has revealed their inaugural offering of bacon and we have her on stage tonight. The charcuterie performers of Belcampo have sung a new tune that may change in the future. This bacon is a work in progress.
  The pedigree of Berkshire and Ossabaw Island hog cross is very impressive. Ossabaw Island hogs are prized for having the same qualities of the’ Black Iberian’ pig used in the creation of cured hams. This special pork belly is cured with celery juice extract. Celery juice is a natural form of nitrites. Sugar and salt and a kiss of mesquite smoke round out this curing process.
  This slab smells deliciously smoky. The meat to fat ratio is appropriate. It fried up nicely with a lower heat. This bacon has a lot of sugar and a high heat can scorch our rashers. It was hard to be patient while the smells of frying bacon entertained our taste buds. Our initial taste revealed a sweet chewy porky flavor. The pork flavor was very rich and almost had a resemblance to mild beef. It was very pleasurable. The smoke was not overpowering and very complimentary. Salt was in good balance. The only factor that was out of kilter was the sweetness. A heavy hand with the sugar cure was prevalent.
  Overall we were very pleased with this work in progress. The butchers of Belcampo have claimed they are tinkering with the recipe. A little less sugar and this bacon is a very fine offering of the meat we all love. Belcampo bacon will receive a rating of 3.75 stars out of 5.

Belcampo Meat
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Price: $15./pound
Where: 2405 Larkspur Landing, Larkspur, Ca. 94939 415 448-5810

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Bean with bacon soup is great for a cold rainy day. It is comforting and guaranteed to warm your belly. The ingredients are few and the process is simple. Today we are using peruano beans. The peruano bean is a pale yellow bean whose origin is Mexico. When fully cooked it is sweet and creamy and holds it shape well. Bacon is the co-star of this hearty broth. We are using some wonderful smoky bacon from Swingles Meats from Placerville California. Onions, garlic, chicken broth and a splash of Spanish Sherry Vinegar will round out this pot of bean love.

Bean with Bacon Soup

  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 6 slices of bacon chopped
  • 1 pound of peruano beans rinsed and checked for debris
  • 1 quart of chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons of Sherry Vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste

All measurements are approximations and white or navy beans may be substituted. Sauté bacon for several minutes, then add onion and garlic. Season the onion & bacon mixture with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add broth and dried beans and bring to simmer. Simmer for two hours or until beans are very soft. Use a potato masher and give broth a couple of smashes to thicken soup. Leave a proportion of whole beans for texture. Add sherry vinegar and simmer for 10 more minutes. You may thin the soup with water to desired consistency.

This soup is a winner. The smells of bacon & onion/garlic cooking will start the anticipation glands working and patience will need to be practriced. The sherry vinegar gives the soup that little extra flavor boost that puts this simple broth over the top. Some fresh baked bread for sandwiches and you are set for a cold rainy day.

Monday, December 10, 2012


“Fire in the Hole!” We have a wing sauce from ‘Buen Apetito; ‘Ancient Fire Wing Sauce”, that will satisfy any heat seeker with flavor and fire power. The hot sauce challenged need not proceed on this journey. This wing sauce is rocket fueled with habanero and cayenne peppers. The pepper heat is flavored with orange juice and orange peels. Habanero peppers do have a fruity taste and oranges will compliment this unique concoction.

It has been raining cats & dogs here in sunny California so we will be cooking our wings in the oven. The wings were separated and the tips removed. A dusting of salt & pepper will season.  Then place wings on a cookie rack on a foil lined baking sheet. To a 375 degree oven  for an hour and turning once should brown your wings nicely. Toss your hot and cooked wings in a sauce lined bowl. Serve immediately and wait for the fire alarm to go off.
  Buen Apetito once again has created a fun and tasty sauce for us heat seeking adventurers. The Orange flavor works with the habanero peppers to create a pepper lovers treat.  When you combine habanero and cayenne the heat meter will tip to 3.5 stars out of 5. My mouth is still on fire. It burns so good.

Buen Apetito
4 Chaplin Street
Waterville, Maine, 04901
(207) - 861 - 4649

Saturday, December 8, 2012


This meat adventure was not a planned excursion. We just stumbled across ‘D.C. Meats’ tucked away in the corner of a small shopping center in San Pablo California. I have been driving by this establishment for years and never new of its existence. D. C. Meats needed to be explored and experienced in the name of meat research. This meat market is in the shadows of a large discount retail store. We walked through the doors and were surprised how big this market is.

  Inside D.C. Meats a clean and fresh smelling market greeted us. Several walls are lined with meat lockers and the main display case is flanked by a large meat preparation area. Half a dozen employees are busy dissecting and packaging large cuts of meat. I get the impression that this is a family run operation. Immediately we were approached and asked if we needed guidance in our meat decisions. We needed several minutes to get the lay of the land.

There was a huge selection of all things meat here. D. C. meats carry hams and bacon from ‘Prime Smoked Meats’. These are bonus points in my book. We noticed quit a few customers coming and going.  There seems to be a high turnover of meat products. One wall of refrigerator cases display meats that were prepackaged. Numerous brands of sausage, steaks, chops, soup bones and roasts. If you did not find your selection up front the butcher would custom cut and wrap your selection.

We asked the butcher several questions and made a selection. The highlight of this excursion was the bill. D.C. Meats has very reasonable prices; in fact to Bay Area norms it is darn right cheap. No pretense or attitude here. Friendly service, fresh meat, huge selection, and great prices are standard here. D. C. Meats why have you been hidden all these years.

D. C. Meat
2077 23rd Av.
San Pablo Ca. 94806
510 215-0394

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Are you looking for that ultimate stocking stuffer? 'Richmond Gold' may be the perfect answer. Local honey that is sweet as can be. This honey is created by urban bees within a couple of miles of the Richmond farmers market. This nectar is a natural sweetener the way nature intended. I personally use honey instead of sugar in most of my cooking endeavors. The biggest bonus, it tastes fantastic. This honey can be purchased at the Richmond farmers market on Friday's. This Friday, yours truly will be holding court and will give personal attention to all those who attend.

Richmond Farmers Market
Friday's 8am to 4pm
24th & Barrett Av.
Richmond, Ca.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Angelo Ibleto is a character larger than life. Charismatic, generous, butcher extraordinaire and most important of all our friend. Our friend is the owner and proprietor of Angelo's Meats in Petaluma California.
We have known Angelo for over 20 years. We make it a point to visit Angelo as often as we can. A visit to his butcher shop is like hanging out with an old friend. He always loves to feed us with some of his delicious Italian food..His focaccia is to die for. When we depart we have a ice chest full of meat and a smile on our face. We would like to share a moment with Angelo.