Chilebrown at home

Thursday, March 31, 2016


Gina D’ Arcangelo is a true Chili Queen. She has won numerous chili competitions, gives chili demonstrations and is a bbq competitor. We just so happen to be friends. She gifted me a very special package of her chili mix. It is a secret combination of dried chili powder, onion & garlic powder, cumin, beef bouillon and all blended to her special specifications. We are going to make a ‘Bowl of Red’ today. This should be tasty fun.

Gina’s chili package comes in a convenient one serving portion. This mix is combined with a pound of cooked hamburger, a can of pinto beans, water and a can of tomato sauce. Of course, there will be a Chilebrown addition of several slices of chopped bacon. I just cannot resist. This process could not be simpler. The hamburger was browned in a cast iron chili pot that had previously cooked the bacon. The powder mix, water and tomato sauce were added. This all simmered for 30 minutes. The beans were added and simmered for an additional 20 minutes. See how easy that was.

We served this in a bowl with a dollop of sour cream. This was a special bowl of red. Gina knows her chili. It was flavorful with chili warmth. The cumin added an earthiness. There is just something special about a flavorful mix of chili, carne (meat) and beans.  I say warmth in the sense of comfort and not burning chili heat. Gina told us this was a mild blend. . Gina’s special chili blend is not available commercially at this time but may be in the future.  Thank’s Gina. This chili won awards in our household

Sunday, March 27, 2016


WOW, what a great weekend. This was our first bbq competition judging duties of the year. Sam's Club of Reno hosted a qualifying round in the Sam's Club National BBQ tour. The weather was clear and bright. It was pretty nippy in the morning but warmed up to the low sixties by the afternoon. Twenty nine teams were ready to battle and the top 6 overall winners would qualify to advance to the next round held in Las Vegas. We polished our certified Kansas City Barbecue Society Master Judges badges in anticipation of sampling and scoring the best bbq on the West Coast. Let the games begin.

It was fun connecting with our fellow bbq judges. The winter months are usually idle with competitions so we had some catching up to do. We had our judges meeting and were informed of several rule changes. I would like to share one rule that possibly was influenced by the influx of hipsters in this new world. Kale is now a legal garnish allowed in turn-in boxes. What has this world come too. We took the oath and were ready to judge.

The bbq teams impressed and wowed our palettes with scrumptious bbq. It is a tough job eating such great food but we relish and respect our positions as judges. The judging tent was a little on the fresco side so getting those first entries in our system was a welcome relief to begin the warming process. By the end of the judging my belt was loosened and my jacket unzipped because I was sweating culinary satisfaction. Oh Yeah!

The awards were held a little early but nobody complained  because it had been a long day. We took our spots and waited for the announcements. We reflected how much we had missed the competitions during the winter. This was our element and were glad to be back.

Congratulations to our friends Chuck and Cindy from the team 'Bowling Over Pigs' for Reserve Grand Champions and the team 'Phil the Grill" for Grand Champion. They both will be moving on to the next round of competition. We would like to leave you with the last image of Bill Souza from the team 'Big B's Down & Dirty" who is pushing the "Shopping Cart of Shame". Unfortunately one of their entries did not make the deadline time for turn in of an entry. It was only by a few seconds. This disqualifies him from moving on in the competition. This was a very emotional time for Bill & Yvonne because of all the hard work, money and commitment involved in a competition. They are both good sports and Bill posed for this picture. This is a competition and disqualifications do happen. We as a barbeque community all feel their pain. We know they will bounce back and be a force to be reckoned with next time. This was a great weekend to start our bbq season. Thanks to Sam's Club for being a great sponsor and host. We cannot wait for the next competition.

Friday, March 25, 2016


Sometimes you just wake up and the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and you just feel warm and fuzzy all over because life is good. When Ms. Goofy presented me with her latest 'Wally World' find these are the feelings I experienced. The infamous dessert pastry Pop-Tarts has a new limited edition flavor of frosted maple bacon. Pop-tarts and I have a long history of bliss. I actually remember when pop-tarts originally came without frosting. One of my first experiences of culinary creation was the addition of ice cream for Pop-tarts a la mode. I am sure you are asking the million dollar question. Does it taste like maple & bacon? My response is; does it really matter? Pop-tarts are, and always will be, very special to me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Let the games begin. We are happy to announce our official beginning of the bbq competition season. This weekend we are traveling to Reno, Nevada for a Regional 4 qualifying round of bbq competition. The winners of this contest will be able to advance to the semi-finals to be held in Las Vegas. We are polishing our judges badges as we speak. Stay tuned.

Sam's Club National BBQ Tour

Friday, March 18, 2016







On a Stool








That's All Folks

Monday, March 14, 2016


What is Kurobuta? Kurobuta is the Japanese term for certain high quality grade of pork. In Japan all Kurobuta pork comes from the Berkshire pig. Not all of the Berkshire pork qualifies to be called Kurobota. It has to be very high quality to receive this title. Recently at Mama Cho’s we found some pork belly labeled as Kurobuta. Is it Berkshire pork?  I am not sure but it looks beautiful. The package we bought was pre-sliced belly. It will need a curing and a trip to the smoker to be called bacon and that is precisely what we are going to do.

We are using a wet curing system today. We are also using a nitrate free recipe. We are bypassing the addition of nitrates because we will be using a hot smoke to flavor our bacon. This will insure safety and no need for pink salt. (Nitrates). Our recipe includes; sugar, salt, molasses and apple cider. The apple cider was swapped out with some homemade apple syrup given to me at my Farmers Market. (Full Recipe Here) We also will be using apple wood as our smoking fuel. This should be fantastic.

The belly was already sliced making this a challenge in the curing and the smoking. Our curing was done in a plastic bucket which was kept in the refrigerator for three days. It was rinsed with plain water overnight. The actual smoking only took about one and one half hours. Our goal was not to cook the slices all the way. We just wanted to add a smoke component to the finished product. We finished our bacon in our trusty black iron skillet.

This bacon turned out fantastic. It had all the right moves. It had a wonderful meaty pork flavor. This was a special breed to have this amount of flavor. The sweetness was balanced with the salt. There was an apple nuance to put this bacon over the top. We crumbled several slices and mixed them with our beans and tamale dinner. Was this true Kurobuta (Berkshire) pork? The price tag say’s no but my taste buds say a resounding yes. Is it possible that Mama Cho’s does not realize what a great pork product they have? I am returning next week to see if I can buy a whole belly for more bacon activities.

Friday, March 11, 2016


We are on a mini Meat Adventure to the recently opened butcher shop/restaurant called ‘Mama Cho’s Homestyle Korean BBQ”. I received an encrypted message from the ‘Great White Hunter”.  He sent me an image of some fantastic meaty bacon proclaiming he had a secret new meat destination. With the mighty powers of Photoshop, I was able to enlarge the photo and read the small print label determining it came from Mama Cho’s. A quick Google search and I was off.  Ha!!!!!!, Secret meat destination indeed.

Mama Cho’s is located in Castro Valley which is only 40 minutes away without traffic. I always chuckle when I put the disclaimer of “without traffic” because it almost a given in the Bay Area. I arrive without incident and park in their spacious lot. Mama Cho’s is located in a re-purposed building. At one time it probably was a chain grocery store. The have gutted the interior to accommodate the C & H Meat Co. who has moved their meat business to this building. They run a wholesale meat department behind a partitioned wall while they have retail counters up front. The rest of this large cavernous building is leased out to food court style businesses. Mama Cho’s has only just recently opened. They will have an official ‘Grand Opening” next month. This Meat Adventure is breaking news.

Mama Cho’s meat selection is large. They have lots of meats cut in Korean style and marinated with Asian influenced flavors. They have house made sausage, prime cuts of beef and drum roll please; Kurobuta pork belly. More on the Korabuta pork later. So many choices had this Mad Meat Genius a little perplexed. Luckily butcher James Dean came to the rescue. He was knowledgeable and answered most of my questions. I stumped him and he called over the “President’ Hans Cho’ pictured above.

How cool is it to have the title “President’ of Mama Cho’s?  Hans and James Dean told me that the wholesale was behind the scenes and the retail with a full service meat market will also serve prepared foods, Some of the menu items are; Korean style tacos & burritos, kalbi burger, and
cheesesteak hoagies . The Great White Hunter and I already have made a lunch date to explore the prepared food at a later date. I loaded up my cart with house made sausage (chicken apple, garlic and spicy Thai chicken, rice stuffed pork loin and some Kurobuta pork belly. Mama Cho’s is a wonderful new meat find. We will happily be investigating all Mama Cho’s has to offer. We are going to try some sausage on pizza tonight.

Mama Cho’s
18911 Lake Chabot Road
Castro Valley Ca. 94546

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Lakewood Meats & Sausage does not disappoint. It is a destination meat stop when we are in the Lodi area. Recently, the 'Great White Hunter' and yours truly embarked on a Meat Adventure. We jumped into 'Black Bart" (Bad. Ass. Raider. Transportation) and visited four different and unique meat destinations. Our first stop was Lakewood Meat & Sausage. Actually this was our meeting area to carpool and begin our adventure. I know this pains the 'Great White Hunter' but my parking karma was in full tilt today because I parked right in front. Granted they do have a designated parking lot. That still counts?

I usually make it to Lakewood Meats about once a year around the Asparagus festival time. I am remembered and greeted as the Mad Meat Genius. They even remember my previous years purchse of some short ribs. I am impressed. This meat market has something for everyone. I especially like the house made sausage. What caught my eye today was a sausage stuffed bacon wrapped pork loin. What a brilliant idea. The Great White Hunter and I made our purchases and continued on our journey. We are going to leave the rest of the journey for another day and fast forward to the kitchen for some bacon wrapped stuffed pork loin cooking.

Cooking this roast cook not of been easier. Lakewood has done all the work for me. My only job was to start a fire. We used one of my cookers that is basically a charcoal fueled oven. Several small apple wood chunks were thrown into the mix for flavoring. The grate was oiled and we began our cook. We cooked our roast until the internal temperature reached 140 degrees. The all important rest time of 20 minutes was observed. We also threw in some beautiful fresh asparagus from the farmers market. It was time to eat.

Slicing open this beautiful roast revealed a luscious sausage center. The exterior bacon had crisped to a heavenly crunch. The pork was tender and flavorful. Does it get any better than this? Lakewood Sausage & Meat is a destination meat stop. This roast was easy to cook and Lakewood did all the preparation. You cannot beat that.

Lakewood Meat & Sausage