Chilebrown at home

Saturday, May 31, 2014


 Foothill Meat Company in Oroville California sells candied bacon. This is bacon that has been soaked in a sugar mixture and baked. Foothill Meat Company sells several strips conveniently sealed in plastic. This was one purchase that was a no brainer. Once home they were stashed in the back of the ice cave. Several weeks have passed and my package of candy has been forgotten. When they were rediscovered it was like finding that hundred dollar bill in your coat pocket that was long forgotten. Eureka! “There’s gold in them thar hills”. Tonight’s dinner included Dutch oven cornbread. The addition of candied bacon just made sense.

Cooking in a Dutch oven has numerous advantages to cooking in a conventional oven. The actual cooking is more efficient with the charcoal heats direct contact to the black iron. Heat control can be managed by time and charcoal count with accuracy. The kitchen does not get heated up the oven. Most important, Dutch oven cooking is just plain fun. Anything your indoor oven can cook a Dutch  oven can too. Today we are following a simple corn bread recipe and adding chopped candied bacon.

We snuck a quick sample of our bacon. It was salty, sweet, savory, and had a slight chew. This bacon also had a great pork flavor. The chopped pieces were folded into our cornbread mixture at the last minute. We counted our lit charcoals and began to bake. While baking, we would get little wisps of flavor smoke escaping from our black iron. It was intoxicating and gave us a hint of the flavor treat to come.

We served our cornbread with some smoked ribs. The cornbread was all that and some more. Candied bacon is a great ingredient to snazz up any cornbread dish.  What cooking fun we have.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


This past Holiday weekend our smokers, grills and Dutch ovens got a full workout. We got to try out and review a fun rub called 'Nikki's Hot Ass Seasoning' Bacon topped meatloaf, wings and Atomic Buffalo Turds all got a healthy dose of this new rub.You can read all about it by clicking the link below..

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


'Atomic Buffalo Turds' are affectionately called 'ABT's" in the bbq world. Is it because we are adults and saying turds will make us break out in giggles or are we just an overly politically correct society? Regardless of what you call them they are delicious. The combination of cheeses and sausage stuffed into a hollowed out jalapeno, wrapped in bacon and then smoked is an appetizer that cannot be beat. Yesterday, we had the bbq, smoker and dutch ovens working at full speed.

The ingredients are few and the preparation is simple. We took 6 fresh jalapenos and sliced them in half. A pairing knife and spoon were used to scrape out all seeds and membranes from the pepper. Our filling consisted of 1 block of cream cheese, bbq rub and two green onions chopped finely. The cheese was softened and mixed with the other ingredients. Feel free to add different varieties of cheese to your variation of filling. A spicy sausage was chopped into small slivers. The cheese mixture was slathered into our hollowed out jalapeno. A sliver of sausage was put in the center. A bacon strip was cut in half and wrapped around our stuffed pepper. The bacon was secured with a toothpick. They were smoked for 1 1/2 hour in our smoker. Whatever you want to call them, they are scrumptious.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


It is not very often, in public, that I jump on to my soap box but today I will make an exception. Today's rant is about the term 'Un-cured bacon'. My friend Mealonie informed me of Nueske bacon being sold at a great price; 4.49/ 12 ounce package at the 'Grocery Outlet'. This is a great price. Nueske makes a quality product. There product may be considered the 'Gold Standard' of bacon. I rushed to the store and picked up several packages. I noticed the term 'un-cured'. Well my friends, if it ain't cured it is not bacon.
  The new terminology of 'un-cured' can be used if instead of nitrates the processor uses celery juice extract as an ingredient. Celery juice extract has the same properties as nitrates but is considered natural. To transform pork bellies into bacon one must CURE the bellies with salt, sugar and celery juice or nitrates. Regardless if you use nitrates or celery juice this process is curing. Marketing gurus have determined that certain sectors of the paying consumer will feel better about their purchases with the term 'un-cured' My response to that is BOULDER DASH!!!!! I still love Nueske bacon.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


‘Big Flavor! , Perfect Heat!’ screams this wild and bold package of ‘Nikki’s Hot Ass Chips’. No preservatives, no trans fats, kosher certified and no MSG are added. Freakishly good, all natural kettle potato chips are all announced on this package. This was the easiest review ever written. But seriously folks today we are going to give Nikki’s Hot Ass Chips a try.
  Nikki Schroeder is the face literally of these chips. Her wide-eyes and screaming mouth playfully adorn each bag of Hot Ass Chips. Nikki is also the entrepreneur and creator of her seasonings and chips company based in Memphis. We love kettle style chips and are looking forward to giving them a try.


Potatoes, sunflower oil, ground red pepper, sea salt, ground paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, lemon pepper, (lemon oil, ground black pepper) and the last ingredient listed is the all mighty ‘Ghost Pepper’.


My initial flavor crunch into these kettle style chips is a jolt of sweet pepper flavor. Immediately and I mean immediately I feel a tingling in my sinuses. I know this sensation well. It is my reaction to pepper heat. Oh my, it burns so good. I grab another handful and take another bite. I can taste black pepper, onion, and garlic surrounding perfectly crispy potatoes. There is the slightest hint of lemon tang. The oil and salt are in perfect balance to entice you for another bite. Three or four bites into my tasting, I take pause. I need to reflect for a second and clear my sinuses. This is one fantastic kettle style chip that has real pepper flavor and Ghost pepper heat to boot.


These kettle chips pack a punch. The ‘Ghost Pepper’ will make its presence known. The heat meter will rise to a scorching 3 stars out of 5


I personally love these chips. They are bold, flavorful and pack a punch of ghost pepper love. So often products claim to be hot and are not. These chips deliver. The packaging is fun and so is the product. The chile challenged will need to eat these chips with caution but if you are a ‘Chilehead’ like me, ‘Nikki’s Hot Ass Chips’ are the bomb. I would like to leave you a quote from ‘Nikki’s Hot Ass Chips’; “Change your life. Get out of you‘re comfort zone. Become everything you’ve always wanted to be. Amen.

Nikki’s Hot Ass Chips and Seasonings

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

greatwhite hunter

'The Most Interesting Man' was modeled after this man. I once witnessed him parallel park a train. He is the 'greatwhite hunter'. A very wise man but very eccentric. Women swoon, men gasp with awe when he enters the room. I am proud to call him my friend. When Ms. Goofy informed me that she could not go on our latest 'Meat Adventure' because she needed to rebuild the 'Racing Honda's 'bottom bracket afgan valve', the greatwhite hunter stepped to the plate. Our journey may have been slow, driven under the posted speed limit but it was fast with great meat finds.

Our first stop was to visit our good friend Angelo of Angelo's Meats in Petaluma California. It is always fun to visit our butcher friend. He was in good spirits. Angelo knew about our visit and baked us a sheet of some of the best focaccia ever. He made us sandwiches of roasted pork that was melt in your mouth tender. He also used some of his house made mustard to guild the lily. It does not get any better than this. We made some purchases before we left with full bellies and smiles on our faces.

Farmers Markets, Oyster companies and finally Willowside Meats was our journey. Willowside Meats sells some of the best aged beef that I have found. Today some spectacular aged New York steaks were bought. This is a beefy treat that I crave. When I cook these steaks, I pay very close attention to their cooking. Salt & pepper is the only seasoning.They are pulled at exactly 125 degrees and rested to insure a perfect medium rare. Ms. Goofy was a little jealous of our sandwiches at Angelo's but she was very happy with our steak dinner. Thanks to the 'greatwhite hunter for navigation and philosophy during our Meat Adventure. Til the next Meat Adventure.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


It is a very hot day in the ‘City’. What better way to spend a lunch break, but to gather with three ‘Master Judges’ and a fellow ‘Meatmen’ team member (Meatmen is our competition ‘Dutch Oven’ cooking team) and experience the hottest new barbecue joint that just opened. The ‘Racing Honda’ set its GPS to 705 Divisadero Ave. San Francisco. Parking seems to never be a problem for this karma blessed meat man. We even remembered to bring a pocketful of quarters. We walk up to an old school brick built bbq joint. The brick chimneys screamed out with the smoky goodness to come.

The inside is small and bustling with activity. You place an order with a friendly clerk and pick up a number and your beverage. Micro-beers, sodas, and root beer on tap are offered. There are no inside seats so we proceed out into the sunny and very hot patio area. There are only a few hot days a year in the City and we picked a scorcher. The outside patio is no ordinary outside eating area. There are tablecloth lined tables that have real silverware on top. Pitchers of ice water and several bbq sauces are offered. One sauce was a white sauce which was stored in an ice bath. We have never seen a white sauce offered on the West Coast before. We all hoped that this fancy dinning area was an indicator of the food to come.

One by one a server brought our dishes. As each dish arrived we noticed the presentation of our various meat combinations. Each plate was like a canvas painted with food to create a visually stunning work of art. This was not your white bread topped plate of Que. In fact most of our plates had an in-house baked parker roll that rocked. It was time to eat before we melted from the high noon sun.

Ms. Goofy ordered her usual pulled pork sandwich. This sandwich of smoky pork received two paws up. She especially enjoyed the roll that cradled this tender and smoky pork treat. Some Cole slaw that had a black pepper kick topped and complimented the rich meat sandwich. As some of you may know Ms. Goofy is a mac & cheese aficionado. This was no ordinary offering of her favorite but was called the ‘Frankaroni’. Mac & cheese studded with house made hot dogs, battered and deep fried was this creation. This creation was a jaw dropper. Oh my! Genius! It was everything you could imagine about decadence and pleasure.

My usual combination is ribs and brisket. I too enjoyed some peppery Cole slaw and the house made parker roll. Let’s start with the brisket. It had a bark/crust that was dark and glistening with caramelized love. Drool may or may not have formed just looking at this offering. The brisket was sliced with just a little layer of caramelized fat.  I took a big bite and closed my eyes. I closed my eyes because I did not want anybody to see my tears of pleasure. This may have been the perfect bite of smoky tender meat and sweet, spicy, caramelized fat. The brisket had a nice beefy flavor.

The ribs were coated with a salty dry rub. Salty in a good way was the verdict. The pork flavor shined with this rub.  I enjoyed the flavor so much I did not even use the sauces offered. I did try the white sauce and if you enjoy mayonnaise this may be for you. The white sauce is a taste/ flavor that is not usually offered in this bbq region.

Ryann Farr is the owner proprietor of this newly opened dinning establishment. This is not your white bread topped bbq juke joint. Ryann also has a butcher shop (4505 Meats), offers classes on butchering and is an author. He has transformed an old brick bbq joint into a destination barbeque establishment. Be sure to bring your camera if you come. The plates are not only a pleasure to eat but are put together to create stunning bbq art. This Mad Meat Genius has a new found love of the arts.

4505 Burgers & BBQ
 705 Divisadero
 San Francisco.  (415) 231-6993

Friday, May 16, 2014


Several Friday’s a month I manage the Richmond Farmers Market. It is a great resource for fresh fruits and vegetables. One particular farm, Bennzler Farms sells organic almonds and oranges. I stocked up on almonds and raisins to make a snack that was very popular a couple of decades a go. Today we are going to make ‘Gorp’. Gorp/granola is a healthy snack that is very easy to make. Using fresh good ingredients is the key. Put on your Birkenstocks and let’s go to the kitchen.


2 cups chopped almonds
5 cups old fashion oats
2 cups raisins
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar

In a large bowl mix maple syrup,vanilla, sugar, salt and oil and whisk to blended.  Stir in oats and almonds to coat. Pour out onto lined baking sheet and spread to edges. Press mixture down with potato masher. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes until brown. Remove from oven and let cool for at least an hour. Break into desired size pieces and add raisins. Easy Peasy.

I like to eat gorp as a snack. Add some strawberries and cream and you will have a decadent healthy breakfast. Once you taste how fresh and vibrant home made granola can be you will be hooked. You may even break out the your tye dye out of the closet and start spinning to the ‘Dead’ and hope for a miracle. (Miracle reference will be only recognized by true Dead Heads).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


The 'Foothill Meat Company' is located near by the Feather Falls Casino, our last chili judging venue. Their signboard was like a shining  beacon in the night that guided this Mad Meat Genius to shore. The Racing Honda sailed into the parking lot to land some 'Prime Crossrib Steaks'.The Foothill Meat Company is a local butcher shop that supplies the local populace of Oroville, California with fresh meat. We stepped through the door and into a meat wonderland. We made various purchases, but today we will focus on the steak. The price could not be beat at 5.99/pound. The butcher sliced us two one and one half inch thick steaks that weighed just under a pound a piece. We packed our purchases in our portable ice cave and proceeded with our chili judging duties.

We are back home from our chili judging adventures and it was time for dinner. The steak package was unwrapped to reveal two beautiful fat marbled hunks of beef. Salt & pepper was dusted on to our steaks while a hot mesquite charcoal fire was created. Four minutes on each side brought the internal temperature up to 130 degrees. I actually missed my target temperature of 125 degrees. The steaks were rested for 10 minutes before serving. They looked fabulous.

The steaks had a beefy flavor that reminded me of a sirloin. It did have a little chew that gave our jaws a slight workout. I did notice that the rarer sections of the cut were a little more tender. Overall these steaks were a great meat find. I will happily give my jaws a workout for this beef any day. I cannot wait to have a sandwich with the leftovers..

Monday, May 12, 2014


Cattleman's restaurant used to be on our rotation of places to go. For reasons that seem to escape me it has been 20 years since our last visit. I used to get a kick out of the 'bean pot lady'. She was a dedicated server who roamed the restaurant with a pot of cowboy style beans to fill your dinner plate. We were passing by when all of a sudden the Racing Honda made a dramatic four wheel skid into the parking lot. It was time to revisit Cattleman's.

Not much has changed. It is a popular dark western themed steak house. We arrived in the middle of dinner service and were seated immediately We ordered steaks and an artichoke appetizer. The artichoke was tender and seasoned well. It also had been kissed by the fire of the grill. We enjoyed it.. My 32 ounce T-bone arrived with grill marks to perfection. I do say it was very good looking. Looks can be deceiving.

The T-bone cut of beef consist of two steaks: the filet and sirloin. My method of attack is to cut each steak off the bone. The filet was juicy and tender cooked to medium rare leaning on the rare side.. This USDA Choice filet was flavorful with beefy love. The sirloin side had only been walked by fire and spanked on the arse. It was raw. I rarely ever send anything back but this was inedible. They did put it back on the grill and cooked it some more.
   I now am starting to remember why it has been so long since our last visit. Alas the bean pot lady has gone and so shall we.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


We should of polished the 'Racing Honda' and entered it in the car show at 'Show N' Shine & Chili Cook-Off' held at 'Feather Falls Casino' in Oroville California. Ms. Goofy might of set a speed record racing towards our first judging duties as newly certified chili judges. This was the first contest of a series of barbeque and chili competition events. This was a wonderful way to spend a Friday afternoon. The skies were dotted with clouds with the temperatures hovering in the seventies.

Today was a small contest with nine brave Chiliheads stirring their bowls of red to claim the prize..Each contestant sets up a small booth equipped with stoves and tables. Every booth had its own chili themed personality. Some contest will award a prizes for the best decorated booth. Today's contest had a salsa division and a 'People's Choice' category. You may have noticed two pots of chili brewing at some stations. The reason for separate pots is because the chili made for the judges is usually spicier. The judges may only take one or two small spoonfuls and it is prudent to grab the attention of the judges palette.

We arrived early thanks to Ms. Goofy's special driving skills to attend the judges meeting. We are briefed on the rules and any special instruction. The judges tent was a familiar site to us. A few of the chili judges are also bbq judges like ourselves. In fact several of the contestants were bbq competitors too. The cross-over and similarities of bbq and chili competitions are evident. The judging of chili is similar but has its own set of rules. One rule that is different and Ms. Goofy's favorite is the encouragement of drinking beer in between tastings. It is a good idea to clear your palette for each entry. Unlike bbq contest drinking is allowed.

It is no easy task judging chili. I was almost relieved we had only 9 entries. Each chili is very good and similar. We looked and tasted for tenderness of meat, consistency, heat level, saltiness, and most important chili flavor. No beans or pasta is present in this competition chili. We pick the top three and rank them accordingly..Our job was done and it was time to relax.

Our bbq friend Gina D'Arcangelo gave a demonstration on the art of making chili. She is a accomplished bbq competitor and has won state championships with her chili. This was a very informative class. Chili is so much more than opening a can. We learned that most competitors do not use fresh vegetables but powders. This is for consistency. For example; a clove of garlic will vary in size or a jalapeno will have different heat levels.After her talk she offered samples of chili to show differences in styles.

We strolled the car show while being entertained by live music. We saw a lot of polished chrome. Most of the crowd had a warm smile on their face? Was it from the chili or the festivities of the day.  It was a wonderful day at the casino. We are looking forward to the next event.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


'Sweet like the morning dew' and 'suitable for vegetarians and vegans' are not my words but of 'Peppadew USA'. Our latest review is of some fantastic pickled peppers. The patented species of pepper is a 'piquante' pepper that originated in South Africa. We made some wonderful pimento cheese topped burgers. Take a look.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


We are still enamored by bacon products even with our last experience with bacon, cheese crickets.. This sign roped us in like a super charged magnet. This vendor had numerous flavors of fudge to choose from. I made sure to sample as many as possible. We did walk away with some bacon fudge.for our enjoyment later. It took a lot of will power to make it home.

You can see the little flecks of bacon studded throughout this fudgey mountain of chocolate. Ms. Goofy said she could not really taste the bacon. It was another texture component that delivered little flecks of bacon chew.throughout. The fudge was tasty on its own and maybe this time bacon did not make it better. It sure is a blast on our bacon fueled journey.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


As some of you may know, I am a fan of bacon. From time to time friends will bring me bacon themed products. Bill & Yvonne on their latest vacation bought me this souvenir They saw it and had to bring it back to this Mad Meat Genius. Well here we go;"Over the lips through the gums, look out tummy here it comes". It does not taste like chicken. It is crunchy with a crisp and crumbly texture. Does it taste like bacon? I am not sure. I was in a little shock with the texture and am not sure I want to try them again. Has anybody seen my floss?.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Today we will have a fun snack of some ‘Peppadew Potato Chips’. This will only be just an appetizer before the main course of ‘Peppadew Peppers. What is a Peppadew pepper? It is a trademarked pepper that originated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It looks like a cross between a cherry tomato and a miniature red pepper. This pepper is sweet with a unique peppery flavor. They are quit the buzz in food magazines and the food network. This should be a interesting and fun adventure.


My first duty in a review is to take a look at the ingredient list.  This package has a long list of ingredients with a very troubling omission. Peppadew peppers is no where to be found on this list. Peri-Peri peppers and ‘extractives of paprika’ are the only listed peppers. I am a little taken back on this puzzling fact. We will move on.


This is a familiar taste that we all love. Salty, crisp, and with flavor that has you craving your next bite. This flavor is of tomato with a slight hint of vinegar. There is a very faint pepper component that is pleasurable. This reminds me of a barbecue flavored chip without the smoke. These are great chips and the whole bag was polished off in a matter of seconds.


Was there an omission on the ingredient list? Peppadew peppers are not listed on this bag. This still was a great bag of potato chips. It was a good snack for the main course of Peppadew Peppers which will be reviewed in the near future. Stay tuned.