Chilebrown at home

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Through out the competitive barbeque season we meet a lot of people who create and sell barbeques sauces and rubs. Ms. Goofy has become good friends with Christine a certified barbeque judge. When Christine is not judging bbq she just so happens to sell Saucy Sally barbeque sauce manufactured by Spice Island of Auburn, California. Christine generously gifted us several bottles of her product. It did not take us long to break open the “Slow Hand Smoulderin Chipotle BBQ Sauce. This will be the perfect excuse to fire up the grill and smoker for beef ribs and bacon wrapped stuffed mushrooms. I chuckle and guffaw with that last sentence because; we need an excuse? Pull up an easy recliner and turn on some Monday night football because we are smokin.

I will spare you the ingredient list today and just say it is long. The aroma is of sweet smoky tomato’s with a faint hint of vinegar in the background. The sauce is dark red, thick, seed free and pours freely from the bottle. There is a slight heat from the chipotle peppers. It is a mild fire that will not require a fire hose to put out. This sauce is sweet but is balanced with the rest of the ingredients. We added sauce on both of our ribs and stuffed mushrooms at the end of the cook and only for a brief moment on the fire to set the sauce. This sauce was just what the doctored ordered Saucy Sally sauce complimented and enhanced our beef ribs and bacon stuffed mushrooms with its sweet smoky tomato and pepper flavors. We would happily use Saucy Sally on any barbeque application.  Thanks Christine, this sauce is a winner.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


The Hanger steak is sometimes referred to as the 'Butchers Steak' because the butcher would save this flavorful cut for himself. The recently released or paroled 'greatwhite hunter' and yours truly went on a mini 'Meat Adventure' Our journey brought us to Angelo's Meats and then Willowside Meats. Willowside Meats has a fantastic offering of aged corn-fed beef for sale. They also have grass fed beef for hipster's. The 'greatwhite hunter' was the first through the door at Willowside and proceeded to order the whole t-bone and rib-eye racks. He cleaned out the meat case. Luckily there were some Hanger steaks left. I have to admit that I am not familiar with this particular cut. Ms. Goofy has ordered it in the restaurant but we have never cooked this cut at home. The butcher told us it was great for bbq. It was similar to a flank steak in its handling and cooking. There is a membrane that runs down the center of this cut. The steak weighed around a pound and on half. Let's give it a try.

The preparation will be a simple rub and bringing it to room temperature. A smoking hot mesquite charcoal fire would blast heat to cook our steak. Our goal was to cook to a medium rare on the rare side. Approximately 5 minutes to each side turning for grill marks was all she wrote. (120-125 degrees). The all important rest for 10 long minutes is necessary. We sliced the roast against the grain into thin slices. It was like slicing through butter. This was the definition of tender. We have arrived in flavor town. I actually detected a hint of sweetness to this beef. I also want to throw out the term umami. You would take a bite and a savory sensation would swirl through out your senses producing a craving for another taste. WOW!. No wonder the butcher would save this cut for himself. Thanks to the 'greatwhite hunter for cleaning out the meat case so we could experience the Hanger steak.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Johnson Farm is the location of Leonardo's Produce, our new favorite Sunday produce excursion. They own the land which Leonardo organically tends and runs his market. Johnson Farm has a small line-up of quality products that is raised and produced on their property. Johnson Farms has local honey, farm fresh eggs, Berkshire pork and next month, Black Angus beef. Today we want to share our purchase of Berkshire pork rib chops and a small roast.The grill and smoker will transform this heritage pork to some tasty meals.

We grilled some rib chops. A light dusting of "The rub of the day" would be our only seasoning. Berkshire pork has an old time pork flavor that tastes phenomenal. Next a roast was smoked on our Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker for 4 hours. When we purchased this frozen roast the cut was a mystery. It was part of the shoulder right near the joint. It turned out very flavorful cut but did not have a lot of meat because of the knuckle bone. This still was a flavor treat that was enjoyed by all. Once you have experienced Berkshire pork you may never buy supermarket offerings again.
 Johnson Farms sells eggs and honey at Leonardo's. They also sell Berkshire pork and in October Black Angus beef. I highly suggest you call first if you are interested in pork because the selection is limited. I am calling today.

Johnson Farm
120 Hampton Rd
Briones, CA 94553

Sunday, September 21, 2014


What a ride! This was a four event contest that just kept getting better. The North State BBQ Championship finals were held at the Feather Falls Casino yesterday. The weather could not of been nicer. Mother nature shined down on thirty two barbeque competitors, bikers, judges, gamblers and the bbq hungry enthusiasts. We would like to share some images with you.

This was a three meat competition consisting of chicken, tri-tip and pork ribs. Thirty judges including Ms. Goofy and myself sampled and scored some of the best smoked meats in Northern California. It never stops amazing me the magic, meat, smoke, fire, seasoning and a whole lot of bbk knowledge can produce. The public had a chance to purchase samples of the bbq offerings. This bbq was so popular that it was sold out after several hours. Feather Falls Casino has a microbrewery on the premise. There was a beer garden conveniently located  near the food and music stage.

The band was very popular with the women participants evident by the makeshift dance floor. The men were safety enjoying the music in the beer tent area. I want to mention a special appetizer that I enjoyed created by the competition team of 'Carolina Q'. They had some bacon wrapped sausage that put a smile on this Mad Meat Genius face. This event also sponsored a motorcycle rally. It was quit the scene of polished chrome and Harley attire. 

The scores were tabulated and the winners were crowned. What fun it is to see our friends and extended bbq family take the walk to claim their trophies It takes a lot of time, grit and moxy to compete and we take our hats off to all the bbq teams. It was a little sad knowing this was the last contest of the series. What a fun journey. 

We cannot wait for the next competition. Thanks Scott Gomes for a great series.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


This is the final showdown in the North State BBQ Championship.. This is the third and final round to be held today at Feather Falls Casino. Ms. Goofy and I will be there with our polished judges badges. It promises to be a great time. See you there!

Thursday, September 18, 2014


We bring you an only in ‘Cali’ moment. Those of you in the know, know that only non-California natives use the term ‘Cali’. Lately, the late night talk show punch line has been kale. We do not normalcy search out this leafy vegetable but we have been known to grow some occasionally. Kale can be the perfect vegetable to showcase bacon. Let’s rewind this herbaceous tale to last Saturday. This Mad Meat Genius was browsing the aisles of a new farmers market in Brentwood when Kale Powder caught my eye.

Asparagus actually was the item that received my attention. Asparagus in September is unheard of. The farmers that operated the booth explained that the asparagus is let to grow and not harvested to promote root growth. They still produce stalks but are not normally harvested. These were not pretty spears but after a quick taste they were determined to be the real deal.. Right next to my favorite spring vegetable was a bag of bright green powder. The vendor explained this was sun dried kale ground into a powder. What on earth would one use kale powder for? The farmers suggested that the powder could be added to smoothies or a pesto. I cannot even imagine a kale smoothie in fact smoothie is not even in my vocabulary. A bag was purchased out of curiosity.

The bag was opened to experience a dry aroma of hay. I dipped my clean finger into the bag and took a lick. It had a spinach type flavor. It actually was a little sweet. This may have some possibilities. We did purchase some of the out of season asparagus because I could not resist. How about some kale flavored mayonnaise for dipping? A tablespoon of kale powder was added to some mayonnaise. A quick stir and we were ready. The asparagus was actually pretty good on its own. The flavored dip was slightly sweet, herbaceous and creamy. This flavored dip was not headline news but was tasty. I also added several tablespoons to some pesto rice. Once again it added that herbal quality that some people crave. I probably enjoyed our Berkshire pork the most. I am the Mad Meat Genius you know.
    It is always fun to try and experience new foods. Kale and now powdered kale will grace the tables of Californians and late night talk show fodder. Powdered kale may  not be my favorite new find but was not a bust. We will have to try some other uses. I can guarantee a kale smoothie will not be one.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


'That's Amazing!" would be Huell Howsers proclamation. We have discovered some true 'California's Gold'. We are talking about Leonardo's Produce stand. Leo's is located on a scenic country road near San Pablo Dam Reservoir.. It only takes minutes to leave the hustle and bustle of our city life to travel this beautiful country route. You may have to dodge the many cyclists because they have discovered this popular road. As some of you know we are farmers market junkies and I even manage a market several times a month. You would think we would have our fill with the many markets in the Bay Area. Leo's produce is a destination market that we love.

Leonardo's produce is a family run farm and stand. They are only open on the weekends. During the week Leo tends his crops to get ready for the weekend. You will meet his beautiful wife and energetic son. Leo's son will help you pick the perfectly ripe melon and freshest tomato's.. The produce does not get any fresher. In fact if it is not on the shelf you can walk a couple of steps and pick it yourself. If Leo does not grow the vegetables or fruit he supplements his stock with produce form another local farm.

The produce prices are more than reasonable. You can stock your pantry with fruits and vegetables for a song compared to downtown farmers markets. They not only sell produce but local honeys and olive oils. Johnson Farm is located next door with fresh Berkshire pork and eggs. (more on Johnson Farm later). Fresh bread and some of the best tasting fresh salsa is available. This is a one-stop shop.

Leonardo's is a family run farm and stand that is a destination that we are proud to share with you. It is refreshing to find  fresh produce at such reasonable prices. It does not get any closer to the farm than this. In the words of the late Huell Howser: This is California Gold."

Leonardo's Produce
120 Hampton Rd.
Briones, Ca.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


The money shot says it all. This appetizer is a keeper. Bacon wrapped mushrooms stuffed with cream cheese and spicy sausage has all the right moves for a very fine snack prepared on the barbeque. The preparation is a little involved but the results are stellar.We will provide a basic guideline on how to prepare these wonderful treats. Feel free to add or subtract ingredients to create your own version of stuffed mushrooms. Just do not forget the bacon.

The first step is to procure a dozen medium large mushrooms. Wipe any yuck off with a paper towel. Twist out the stem and use a spoon to hollow and remove the gills. Next use some softened or whipped cream cheese. I have used flavored cream cheese with great results. Today we have taken one six ounce package of cream cheese and divided it equally among our mushrooms. It is spread on the bottom of our hollowed out mushrooms to form a base to cradle our sausage. We used Jimmy Dean's sausage spiked with garlic and spicy rub but you can let your imagination go wild with your sausage choice. We rolled the sausage into little balls and placed them on the cream cheese. Everyday supermarket bacon will be our wrapper. Take one slice and cut in half. Arrange the two halves into a cross. Invert your stuffed mushroom and place onto bacon cross sausage side down Stretch and fold each section of bacon to top of mushroom (bottom) and secure with toothpick. It is time to build a fire.

We are using an indirect fire on our Weber Kettle. You will notice the charcoal is on one side and an aluminum pan filled with water on the other. We also place several chunks of hickory wood on the lit coals to add a smoke component. Place your bacon balls toothpick side down on the well oiled grill over the water pan. Place top on grill and be sure all the vents are wide open. Cook for approximately 40 minutes or until the bacon is crisp. We also checked the sausage temperature with a probe thermometer. (160 degrees). Remove sausage from grill into a holding pan. We now dip our balls into a barbeque sauce of your choice. It is time to remove the toothpick. Use caution when handling your balls because they are hot and fragile Return the stuffed mushrooms to the grill for an additonal three minutes. Just enough time to set the sauce. Remove them again and be prepared to have a treat. You do not have to let them rest but I would highly recommend it. If you bite into these treats right off the grill you will experiences a rush of molten cheese.. Once they have sat for 10 minutes or so they will firm up slightly. This appetizer is a winner. Have fun.

Friday, September 12, 2014


This is no ordinary weenny roast. This party has invited Western European and Moroccan flavors to this flavor fest. We review a relish from Baron's International Kitchen today. Have a gander if you will.
                                               Read Review Here

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


 The ‘greatwhite hunter’, a friend and frankly sometime a little bit eccentric, (The truth is he is like the creepy uncle that nobody likes to talk about) has recently cut his ties with the ‘Salt Mine’. We both have toiled and reaped financial gain from this large corporate machine. We also share the love of Meat Adventures. The ‘greatwhite hunter’ was in the Reno, Nevada area so I dispatched him to several meat emporiums. Wolf Pack Meats of the College of Agriculture Biotechnology and Natural Resources of University Nevada, Reno was one of his destinations. Wolf Pack meats sells grass-fed beef from their department at the college. The ‘greatwhite hunter’ came through on his Meat Adventure with several different cuts of steak. Today we are going to cook some rib-eyes.

Let’s start out with the actual butchering of these steaks. I am wondering if freshman students got hold of these cuts. The quality of butchering skills was poor by the image evidence. To identify them as rib eye cuts was a stretch. They were uneven in size and fat cap area. The color was very deep red. We also noticed a lack of fat marbling. We will season them with salt and pepper only. They were cooked on a very hot fire over mesquite charcoal. I watched the temperature very closely. When the internal temperature hit 125 degrees they were pulled from the fire. They rested for 10 minutes before serving. ‘Drum roll please.’

These steaks were cooked to a perfect medium rare. Even so there was a chew and tug with each and every bite. They did have a pleasant beef flavor. Here is the rub. They did not have that umami flavor associated with corn fed beef. These steaks were just missing that special mouth feel and flavor that we crave. Now this is antidotal evidence and I am not entertaining a grass v corn-fed debate so let’s call it a day. We will let the Wolf-Pack run away.

Monday, September 8, 2014


The Racing Honda is flying at warp speeds across the Bay Bridge to the Mission District in the City (San Francisco) for a special burrito lunch. Papalote Mexican Grill is a tacqueria that has been featured on numerous television shows and makes the ‘Best of’ lists regularly. Papalote is the Spanish word for kite that coincides with the restaurants philosophy. They would like you to experience a family Sunday afternoon birthday picnic in Mexico City sharing food, fun and flying kites. I feel warm and fuzzy inside already. Papalotes also wants to promote a healthier more upscale type of ‘Mission’ style burrito. This is evident by a signature salsa, burritos served on real dinnerware and beans made with no-lard. Ms. Goofy is concerned because she loves; I mean really loves beans made with lard. Hold on to your arm rests because the Racing Honda slows for no burrito.

Is it divine intervention or Karma? Whatever the reason we are on a parking roll provide by a legal non-metered spot one half a block away. We are in the Mission district which is heavily decorated by murals. This colorful wall welcomed us to the entrance of Papalotes. Inside is a small dinning area with kites (papalotes) hanging from the rafters. You place your order at the counter to receive a small number marker to bring to your table. Immediately a server brings a small bowl of chips and a tiny (2 ounce?) portion of their signature salsa. This salsa is very tasty. It is a mixture of roasted onions, tomato’s and peppers. It is blended with some oil and spices. This salsa was very good. It was mild with great vegetable flavor. It was rich and creamy from the addition of blended oil. I ate the whole small serving with just a few tortillas chips. I had to have some more and would of liked some more heat. I went to the counter to inquire about a hotter sauce. They did have a hotter salsa but it was for sale only for 7 dollars. What? Okay, how about some more mild please? Papalote will charge you 50 cents more for a 2 ounce taste.  Our burritos arrived on nice Fiestaware plates.

Those of you that are familiar with ‘Mission’ style burritos know there is an art and procedure to eating a burrito without making a huge mess. Burritos are normally wrapped in aluminum foil. You peel the foil from one end and attack. The burrito is held upright to hold in all the burrito juices. As you proceed down the tube of meat love the foil is peeled back. At Papalote a knife and fork are provided. Ms. Goofy and I both ordered the carne asada. (Grilled steak). The steak was very flavorful and tender. The filling of rice, beans, signature sauce and meat formed a very satisfying lunch. I dosed my burrito with the little signature sauce that I had purchased. No knife and fork for this professional burrito eater. I picked it up with my meat paws and went to town. This rendering of ‘Mission’ style burrito was not very juicy with burrito love so it was not a messy operation.

Papalote makes a wonderful signature sauce/salsa. The burritos were tasty and filling. I can understand why they are popular and generate so much publicity. They have stretched the boundaries of what a ‘Mission’ style burrito is. Plates, knives and forks are usually not provided for this type of food. Charging for extra salsa in my opinion is blasphemous. Sure the restaurant is in the business of making money and I would expect to pay for salsa to-go. But to require you to buy a bottle of a hotter style sauce seems wrong to this Chilehead. Even so this was a fun burrito adventure. We enjoyed our lunch. I do not think we will return because there are so many more ‘Mission’ style tacquerias to explore.

Papalote Mexican Grill
3409 24th St,
 San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 970-8815

Saturday, September 6, 2014


I just wanted to share some of the best smoked prime rib I have had in a while. Two Friday's a month Beaver Creek Smokehouse in Martinez California serves smoked prime rib. Oh my was it good.

We are off to another bbq competition today. Smoke on the River in Sacramento.will be our destination. I hope we get to judge some more prime rib.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Having the proper tools are  very important to achieve barbeque greatness. One tool we take for granted is the grill brush. Before and after every cook I faithfully oil and brush the barbeque grate. We have used numerous grill brushes with mixed results. Rizzi from Mr. Grill asked me to put their grill brush.through the paces. I accepted her offer and she immediately sent me a Mr. Grill brush for review. This will be the perfect excuse to fire up the grill. Like I need an excuse.

Mr. Grill brush at first impression is a very quality made product.  The handle is 18 inches long and made of sturdy oak. The bristles are made of shiny brass. Shiny now, but I hope to dull this brilliance with crud from the grill. The brass brush length is 6 inches long for maximum scraping area. This brush is sturdy and the bristles are the perfect size to get through the grates. This brush is even guaranteed for one full year. Let's give it a try.

My routine before each and every cook is to give my grill a proper brushing.(and oiling). A charcoal fire is built and the grates are put in place. After several minutes the grates will be smoking hot. Mr. Grill brush glided easily over the grates to remove and destroy crud left from our last cook. We purposely left some crud from our last cook to demonstrate burnt on material by the image above. Mr. Grill made quick work to remove this unwanted grease and yuck. I personally like the long 18 inch handle. I could wrap both my large meat hands around the comfortable handle to provide extra leverage for those problem spots. The brass bristles had just the proper length to get between the grates for cleaning.

Mr. Grill brush easily passed with flying colors to be a quality grill brush. We proudly will add Mr. Grill brush to our arsenal of barbeque tools. With the proper usage of brushing (and oiling) the grill grates will almost guarantee success of non sticking and easy removal of your barbeque meals. A clean grill will help achieve those beautiful grill marks. Mr. Grill will do the job. If you are interested in purchasing a quality grill brush you can find Mr. Grill on Amazon or you can order directly from Mr. Grill;s website.


Mr. Grill's website:   Click here to go to Mr. Grill