Chilebrown at home


Let's get Cookin!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


There was a protest at the bbq contest in Martinez this Fathers Day weekend. We briefly stopped by to visit with some of the competitors but left before the brawl happened. This contest was not a Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned event and our judging services were not needed today. It still was a fun event that showcased a lot of local backyard bbq enthusiasts. There were a lot of families enjoying this day. This was a festival that should of been a fun and safe place to enjoy the weekend. This was all shattered by a crazed, misguided, disruptive, anti-social group that goes by the name of Direct Action. They have been responsible for other protests in the Bay Area and we witnessed their shenanigans at the S.F. BBQ festival.

It was time to give out the awards to the bbq competitors. A gentleman rushed the stage with a ruse of needing the microphone to find his lost child. He grabbed the M.C. mike. He then started to spew his anti-meat propaganda. The mike was physically taken back but this was only the beginning of the chaos. More protesters took the stage and did what they do; annoy and disrupt. The details are a little sketchy but violence erupted with some people getting hurt. A spokesman for the protesters  compared meat consumption to eating a human child and denied that her group was responsible for violence. Regardless of who started the violence this groups actions caused the violence. Oh my. This is life in the Bay Area. Never a dull moment. 

Here is a link to the local news coverage of the protest.

Sunday, June 17, 2018


 Joey Chestnut the World Hot Dog Eating Champion has ventured into the condiment world. We are big fans of this trencherman and have witnessed him devour 10lbs of ribs several times at the Sparks Rib Cook-off.. If Joey endorses this mustard, that is good enough for us. We purchased his whole line-up of condiments. Today we are going to try the Picnic mustard on some sausage. It may not be 4th of July but let's light some fireworks and eat some dogs.

The ingredient list is short and sweet; mustard seed, vinegar and spices. The top is removed to let a familiar mustard aroma escape. I squirted some onto my sausage and was immediately a little put back because liquid only came out. This was because the mixture had separated. This happens and a quick shake and we were back on track. The texture was smooth. It had a mustard bite but was mild. I enjoyed it. There was nothing that rocked my boat but this was basically table mustard. Ms. Goofy on the other hand did not like it. She claimed it had a sour taste. After she mentioned this I tasted a little sourness possibly from the vinegar. We all have different likes and dislikes.

Joey is one of my food hero's. He is marketing and cashing in on his fleeting fame. I think his Picnic mustard is a decent condiment that I will use. It may not be everybody's favorite like Ms.Goofy. We both will be rooting for Joey this 4th of July when he defends his World Hot Dog Eating title.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Garlic sausage stuffed bacon wrapped pork loin is whats for dinner tonight. We always make a point to visit Lakewood meats whenever we are in Lodi California. Lakewood Meats is a quality butcher shop with a wide assortment of delicious meat products. Seeing this sign and the actual roast in the meat case made this purchase a no-brainier. I was actually a little proud of myself for not buying a whole lot more meat products today because we only had a small ice chest. We would have to wait a day to actually cook this roast because we were judging bbq at the Van Ruiten Winery today. 

There is not a whole lot of preparation in cooking this beautiful roast. It is really only involved building an indirect medium fire in a covered bbq. This roast is already seasoned. We did let it rest out of the refrigerator to allow it to come to room temperature. The roast was cooked for approximately an hour or until the internal temperature reached 145 degrees. The roast was rested for 20 minutes  before it was sliced with a sharp serrated knife.

Oh my gosh, was this fantastic? Moist, smoky, bacon, porky delight was our experience. This was served with some fresh peas from our farmers market. It does not get any better than this or does it? The sandwich the next day with a dollop of mayonnaise may have been even better. If you are ever stuck in old Lodi again be sure to pick up a Garlic sausage stuffed bacon wrapped pork loin at Lakewood Meats.

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Where have we been? It seems like an eternity since our last bbq competition. We are at the Van Ruiten Winery for a bbq competition that also is a fundraiser for the charity group "Autism Speaks".
Van Ruiten winery is located in Lodi California one of the states premium wine growing regions. In fact our venue is located right smack in the middle of a working vineyard. It was a grand day to judge some bbq and drink some wine. We would love to share some images with you.

No, Ms. Goofy did not upgrade the Racing Honda. We are in wine country and what better way to arrive but in a bright red Ferrari. Today was the perfect day with temperatures in the 70's. The breeze was a little challenging for the cooks but they are professionals.

The judges were very hard at work today. We had tri-tip, ribs and a mystery meat to judge. The mystery meat was revealed to be chicken. The competitors had to cook their chicken in a bbq but they could present it anyway they thought would wow the judges. We saw everything from tacos, sausage, chicken topped raviolis, puff pastry topped with chicken and one of my favorites bacon wrapped cream cheese filled chicken rolls. This was a fun and tasty category.

This was an entry from the category of "Mystery Meat". The competitor used his bbq chicken to make a very delicious salad. They then baked some puff pastry in their bbq. They were combined to make a very scrumptious entry. It did not win first place but it sure was tasty.

The public was able to meet and greet the competitive bbq teams. This was an intimate setting that gave an up close look at the workings of a competition. The public was allowed to buy food and drink tickets to sample award winning bbq. They also got to try some of our gracious hosts, Van Ruiten premium wines. There was a band to entertain. While one was listening to the music they could stroll the large raffle prize area to purchase chances of winning while benefiting 'Autism Speaks". I dropped my tickets in the shiny new red Weber BBQ box. (never enough of shiny new bbqs I always say).

 This last image is of an Ugly Drum Smoker referred to as a UDS. It is amazing how such a simple cooking vessel can turn out championship bbq. The real reason I wanted to show you this shot was to demonstrate that we were situated right smack in the middle of a working vineyard. It does not get any more California than that. Congratulations to our friends Gina & Jack of Big Shot BBQ for winning the Grand Championship. We cannot wait till the next event.

Saturday, June 2, 2018


Alden is a serious Chilehead. He lives across the country in Maryland and we correspond about all things pepper. Almost a year and one half ago he started making a hot sauce from some very exotic peppers that he grew in his garden. They had names like Chocolate Scorpion and Congo. They sound hot. He made a mash and put in in a wooden barrel to age and ferment. He just recently opened this barrel and bottled this elixir. Yours truly received one of these special sauces. I jotted down a couple of notes from my initial tasting that I would like to share with you.

The aroma has the unmistakable hint of fruity exotic peppers.  I immediately removed the flow restrictor (personal pet peeve dislike of flow restrictors) and poured a little on the back of my hand. The little I did taste ignited the heat scale to 4 out of 5 stars and this heat kept on climbing with afterburner goodness. I detected a little sourness maybe from the fermentation. I hate to use the word Umami but it did have the quality and savory that triggers craving for another taste. I realized I could not eat this straight so I opted for pizza. I admit that I did overdue it with sauce. It burns so good. Also this sauce has a balance and roundness of salt, sweet and sour with the pepper hint of fruitiness that I associated with exotics.(peppers). There is no comparison to the National brand of fermented sauce from Avery Island. This sauce has body and the National brand is watery in my opinion. I could go on and on about how great this sauce is and I will. I need to let my taste buds rejuvenate before I savor this sauce some more. I most likely did some taste receptor damage tonight. I do admit that I replaced the flow restrictor but only temporarily.  Alden, Thankyou and Bravo.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


It was a three day weekend for most of America. What is more American than a cherry pie? We made a home made cherry pie from farmers market fresh cherries to celebrate this holiday weekend. We also threw in a pork shoulder roast procured from the U.C. Davis Meat Labs to make this a very tasty weekend.

This pie was a creation that I made up as I went along. It is a little chore to pitt several pounds of fresh cherries. We do have a fancy pitting utensil but sometimes it missfires and only a plug of cherry is removed. I did my best but one wayward pitt will be somebody's prize in this pie. The pitted cherries were briefly boiled in a pot to soften and thicken. The crust and topping was a combination of chopped almonds, butter, brown sugar, flour and oats. I like making this crust because you basically just stir all the ingredients together and go. A brief trip to the oven and we were ready.

I hope your weekend was as tasty as ours. We reflected and honored the memory of veterans who gave their life. We did it in our way with cherry pie. I almost forgot to say how wonderful our pork roast was. Oh my! Till the next time.

Sunday, May 27, 2018


Kramer knives offered me the opportunity to buy a special pocket knife. I did not hesitate because anything made by Bob Kramer is guaranteed to be quality, collectible, and a very special tool. The handle is made of cocobolo wood. The blade and handle are etched with the Kramer knife logo. This is a hand forged beauty that I am proud to own.

Thursday, May 24, 2018


It is time for the yearly ritual of stocking up with charcoal briquettes. Memorial Day charcoal  sales at the big box stores are a tradition that we take advantage of. This year the price is 9.88 for a double bag of 18.6 pounds. This is almost half off the regular price. It makes sense to buy 372 pound because it will be put to good use. If now I coul only talk Ms. Goofy into unloading the truck.

Monday, May 21, 2018


The Burnie Grill looks like a whole lot of fun. How about a meal cooked over your own self contained campfire grill. The Burnie Grill is an alder wood log embedded with alder wood charcoal. This cooking log is notched for air flow and has a charcoal starter cube for ignition. You light a match, step back and 20 minutes later you have a cooking vessel. It may be environmentally green and politically correct because it does not leave any trace except some ash and it is made of all natural wood.  Burnie claims this notching of the grill stump comes from an ancient Nordic technique. You will have to supply your own cooking grill but that will not be a problem here at Mad Meat Genius lab. Pull up a stump because we are firing up the Burnie Grill.

We are cooking a couple of steaks tonight. The Burnie Grill is lit by a fire starter in the center of the log. Once lit, the charcoal surrounding lights fairly quickly. It was a breezy evening and we were ready to cook in 20 minutes just as the brochure claimed. The instructions also suggested having some water to extinguish any flames if the wood started to flame. This was prudent Intel with our windy conditions because we experienced wood  flare ups. We cooked a filet and a T-bone steak. The grill was crowded and we adapted. We did notice the heat a little uneven on the cooking grate. It was a little challenging with the fire flareups which we extinguished immediately with the water. One thing I really enjoyed was the smell of smoldering alder wood. It was like we were camping and sitting around a campfire. Our steaks were done and tasted very good. They had a definite hint of alder wood smoke.

Overall the Burnie grill was fun. It was very easy to light. It did have some challenges with even cooking temperature on the grate and flare ups I loved the smell and flavoring of the Alder wood. When we had finished using the Burnie Grill it was put in our kettle grill to allow burning down to ashes. I would purchase the Burnie grill if I was going on a campaign trip. This unique cooking device may be a little too much for home use. I do love a challenge and the Burnie Grill was actually a whole lot of fun.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


"Pop-up restaurants seem to be popular these days. It is a cheaper alternative to opening a brick and mortar establishment. Shaw's Texas Style BBQ comes through my home town about once a month. He sets up right in the local auto repair shop parking lot. I thought it was about time to give his bbq a try. I live only two blocks away and could of walked but chose to drive because I wanted to bring home dinner right away. Shaw's sells chicken, ribs, sausage and tri-tip. I chose a three way combination excluding chicken. I also committed an error of judgement and forgot to ask for the sauce on the side.

Once home I opened the Styrofoam clam-shell to reveal a whole mess of sauce covered bbq. It did not look to appetizing to me. The spareribs had been band-sawed in half to make little rib lets. The tri-tip was buried somewhere in the swimming pool of tomato based, sweet and liquid smoke flavored bbq sauce. The potato salad looked commercially made and the beans may or may not have been freshly harvested from a can. I would like to tell you how it tasted but all I could really taste was the sauce. The tri-tip seemed to be tender. The sausage was dry and the ribs were tough. Oh my, sometimes you just cannot please this bbq judge. Next time Shaw's passes through town so will I.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


The Crumb Sweeper is a tool designed to remove crumbs from a tablecloth, used especially in fine dining situations. “The Crumber’ is the person who uses this elegant tool. The Crumb Sweeper is so much more than a tool that performs a menial task but a touch of elegance and a reminder of a gentler time when fine dining was a spectacle to be enjoyed. The main course is complete and the table is cleared for the dessert course. The tablecloth of fine linen has been cleared clean except for a few wayward crumbs that escaped the bolero jacketed bus person. In comes “The Crumber’. Usually the waiter, with practiced hands will gracefully sweep, to clear and cleanse the field of culinary delight. This simple, gentle act will signal the final course of dinning pleasure. Ben Lobenstein understands and appreciates this slowing vanishing act of fine dining. He has generously gifted me this gold monogrammed crumb sweeper from the Shaddowbrook restaurant. Thankyou Ben, for I will appreciate and cherish this symbol of food service extraordinaire.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


8th Livermore KoC Ribs, Chili, Cars, Brews & Blues, what more can you ask for? It was a beautiful sunny day in Livermore, California. We were there to have some fun. It just so happened that we judged a rib and chili contest. We would like to share some images with. Be prepared for a lot of shiny polished chrome and pictures of people having ribalicious fun.

Sunday, May 6, 2018


The skies were a little gray today but that did not darken the festivities at the Western Festival Elk Grove. In fact a little cloud cover provided a pleasant break from the heat sometimes experienced in Elk Grove. We are here at this festival to judge thirty five competitive barbeque teams. As allways we look forward to sampling and scoring some of the best barbeque in the nation. This was so much more than just a competition it was a gathering of festive people from the Elk Grove area. We would love to share some images with you.

There was a midway with carnival rides to make any child happy. An art and wine show displayed many local artists creations with the opportunity to sample local wines too. To add atmosphere a small trio of musicians entertained. Music was everywhere. A main stage had headlining acts while there was a couple of strolling musicians. In fact we were serenaded in the judges tent by a lone bag piper who announced with all of its blustery splendor the arrival of their meat teams entries. 

Pony rides for the children made me a little jealous. I am sure they had a weight limit and I really exceeded it after scoring chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. We judge so often that it still amazes me how fantastic bbq can be. Wow, we had some fantastic entries today. After our judging duties I strolled the grounds. I saw lots of booths promoting local business and charitable causes. I made sure to enter the contest to win a years supply of bundt cakes from the local baker.

The scores were tabulated and the winners were declared. Our friends Bill & Yvonne Sousa of 'Big Bs Down & Dirty, (pictured in the last image) took Reserve Grand Champion. The team, Simply Marvelous was the Grand Champion today. What a great day. We cannot wait till next weekend when we get to do this all over again in Livermore.