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If you have a question for Doctor John, send an email to moc.oohay@nevarkeerc

January 2, 2009

Alas, the fierce Artic winds have come sweeping down from Canada bringing Texas some cooling but not a drop of moisture. It has not rained in so long here that the rocks are crawling around looking for moisture.

This is the cold and flu season. Be sure you wash your hands real good when you come back from town and don't pick your nose before you come home from town either. That's the way most colds and flu are caught. (The above should not be taken as medical advice as I am not a medical doctor but play one on Texas Cooking.)

Let us see what kind of culinary problems we can solve this time.

Doug is exploring the possibilities of deep frying.

I have been on a quest to find out if, like whole turkeys, other cuts of meat such as beef roasts, pork roasts, etc. can be deep fried in a similar way. Deep-fried turkey (or at least the one I had) is some of the best meat I ever put in the hole. I wonder if it would do the same with large cuts of beef, pork, etc. Any input would be appreciated!

Hi Doug: Fry away. I have heard from people who have fried nearly everything from pork shoulder to hams. The catch is you have to figure out how long it takes to cook something. As far as I know, no one has made up a chart of frying times. Common sense and a good meat thermometer will get you in the game. As you know, when frying a turkey the oil gets inside the turkey. It won't get inside a roast, so a longer cooking time is in order.

The best way I know to season something for the fryer is to season it the night before and let it set, sealed, in the ice box overnight. Set it out a couple of hours before you cook to let it warm a bit. Good luck, and be careful with that fryer. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Mariam bought early:

We just purchased a fresh Butterball turkey on 12/14/2008 at Costco. It had a use-by date of 12/27/2008. Is it safe to keep until December 25th to cook it? Or should we cook it now and freeze the meat and reheat on Christmas day. The person who is going to cook it is very concerned about possible food poisoning if it is left in the refrigerator that long.

Hi Miriam: I really don't think it would be a good idea to keep the bird that long. It would have to be held at a temperature between 28°F to 32°F, and most ice boxes do not maintain that low a temperature. I think cooking it now would be just fine. It would save a lot of work on serving day. Just remember you want to start the cooking in a preheated 325°F oven. When the internal temperature reaches 180°F in the thickest part of the thigh everything will be done. Good luck and thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Bettie wants to know:

Dr. John, what is the difference between mashed potatoes and creamed potatoes? They all look alike to me.

Bettie: Mashed potatoes are just that, potatoes cooked and mashed with a bit of butter and other seasonings. Creamed potatoes are those that are mashed real fine and then milk or cream is added and all mixed into a dry puree. (In my family the terms are interchangeable).

To make creamed potatoes, you peel and rinse the potatoes. Put them in cool water with a tad of salt and bring to a light boil. Cook until very tender. (Check with a fork). When they are done, drain them well. Add a generous amount of butter or you can use the low-cal butter substitute. Mash the potatoes very fine. You can finish with a large spoon or electric mixer adding as much milk or cream as needed to get the desired consistency. It is customary to top with a light sprinkle of chopped parsley.

I have a killer method for making mashed potatoes. This is for two medium size potatoes to give an idea of proportions.

Wash the potatoes. Cut into chunks, but leave the skins on. Boil in salted water until tender. Drain them well. Mash them roughly with the potato masher. You may have to cut them in smaller pieces with a knife before mashing. Add 4 tablespoons of butter or substitute, 2 tablespoons of fine chopped fresh onion, 2 slices of good American or Swiss cheese torn into small pieces. Mix well, adjust salt, and serve piping hot. You may garnish with the parsley.

While we are talking "taters", red-skinned potatoes do not lend themselves well to being either mashed or creamed. They are best served in bite size pieces. Everyone should know the "lil’ red pertater" and fresh green bean dish.

Red-skinned potatoes do make decent tater salad, skins on or off.

The good doctor extends New Year greetings to all his readers. It was a fun year, and he is looking forward to curing a lot more problems in 2009.

If you have a question for Doctor John, send an email to moc.oohay@nevarkeerc
end article

Traditional Texas Food Articles
By Dr. John, Ph.B.

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