Online Since 1997

Quick Search Recipes:

Search Recipes Alphabetically
A - B   C   D - F   G - J
K - N   O - P   Q - S   T - Z

Texas Wines & Wineries

Texas Restaurants

Ask Doctor John
Previous Q&A:

March, 2011
      Jan, 2011
      Dec, 2010
      Nov, 2010
      Oct, 2010
      Sept, 2010
      Aug, 2010
      July, 2010
      June, 2010
      May, 2010
      April, 2010
      March, 2010
      February, 2010
      January, 2010
      December, 2009
      November, 2009
      October, 2009
      September, 2009
      August, 2009
      July, 2009
      June, 2009
      May, 2009
      April, 2009
      March, 2009
      February, 2009
      January, 2009
      December, 2008
      November, 2008
      October, 2008
      September, 2008
      August, 2008
      July, 2008
      More Ask Dr. John Q&A

Cooks Need to Know
Handy substitutions, equivalent measurements and metric conversions
Looking for
great food gifts?

Find something
special in our
Food Gifts Store

Restaurant Loans
for your food business

Website: Texana
Visit our sister site devoted to Texas books, travel, people and culture

Shop on

More Ask Dr. John Q&A's   Message Boards   Free Newsletter   Grocery Coupons  

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

February 3, 2009

February, the month of falling in love. Valentine's Day falls right in the middle of it. I know all you men out there understand women, and all the women understand men, so there is no use in me expounding on the topic.

We have a variety of subjects to deal with this month so let’s get started.

Bob writes:

Dr. John: I received a new charcoal grill for Christmas and the weather soon will be warm enough to use it. I am a complete novice at this, so can you give a couple of tips? I especially wonder about all the different types of charcoal on the market.

Hi Bob: You can find the mechanics of grilling over in Traditional Texas Fare in my article Barbecue 102. There are several other grilling articles listed also.

Charcoal is wood that has been burned in a low oxygen atmosphere. The lack of oxygen keeps the wood from flaming and being completely consumed. There are many brands and many types of charcoal available. The most common charcoal used for grilling is the charcoal briquette. These are made from charcoal that has been ground and mixed with clay so it will stick together. The briquettes work well. You will have to experiment to see which works best for you. Some burn real fast, some slow. Some burn hotter than others. Some come with exotic wood flavoring such as mesquite. I would avoid the match-light variety. I just think the fuel in them gives everything an off taste.

Lump charcoal is the pure product that does not have clay or other binders mixed in. This is probably best. It comes in odd shaped pieces that may require some adjusting to get an even fire.

The traditional way to start the charcoal to burning is to use starter fluid. This is naphtha. You make a pile of your charcoal, squirt on some starter fluid, apply match and wait until you get a complete gray ash on all the charcoal. You have to let all the naphtha burn out or you may get that off taste. If possible always remove your grate from the grill while the starter fluid burns.

You can avoid the starter fluid altogether by using an electric starter or a charcoal chimney. The chimney uses newspaper to start the charcoal. You can find these items at your barbecue equipment section in nearly every large department or hardware store.

I hope this gets you started. Don't forget to clean everything up after every use. (Don't throw the leftover coals in the dumpster; it makes the fire inspector irritable).

Ross writes:

I have experimented with a lot of fajita marinades -- one that even called for Coke, soy sauce, garlic, lemon pepper. I have been to many restaurants in Texas and I live in Texas as well, and most of the restaurants can serve up some pretty awesome fajitas. My main problem is that all of the marinades I have tried or found on the Internet have not been even close to what the restaurants serve up. Seems like the restaurant fajitas always come up good and smoky and on the sweet side I also notice there may be a hint of spices in them as well. I would greatly appreciate it if you would give me some direction or a recipe to guide me on because I'm almost at a loss right now. And I got a big party coming over to my house and they want fajitas. So any recipes or recommendations would be great. Thank You. Ross

Hi Ross: That's a hard one. I'm not a big fajita fan. But the first thing that comes to mind is next time you find some you really like, ask the cook what he uses for marinade. Most are happy to share their information, especially if you compliment them on their product.

I had a recipe for a really good marinade that I liked. Alas, it got lost over the years. From memory I can get you pretty close to it.

  • 2 cups burgundy wine
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Put it all in a blender and puree it. Pour over the fajitas in a zip lock bag and let marinate at least four hours.

If this is close, you can add or subtract what you like and perfect the formula. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Bill writes:

Hi. I am a great lover of food, have cooked for many years. Now I have decided to just cook on the grill. I have purchased a Brinkmann ProSeries Model 2700. It has six burners, and is all stainless steel. I guess I need advice on baking on a grill -- cakes, pies and bread. I think that it is possible to use a grill for every aspect of cooking food. I live in northeast Arkansas, and I can grill all the year around. Would really welcome all the help I can get. Thank you. Bill

Hey Bill: I don't see any problems with using your grill for baking. As long as you can get the temperature up to about 350°F, the food doesn't know what kind of oven it's in. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Barry writes:

I grew up in Texas, but have not cooked goat for way too many years. I now have one in the freezer and would like to slow cook this Texas delight for my friends for Super Bowl, but need some directions on how to do it. I have a New Braunfels smoker and use a propane setup in the firebox to keep the temperature at the desired setting. I have mesquite, apple, etc., available for the smoking flavor. Help would be appreciated.

Hi Barry: Check out my article Oh Deer and Other Wild Game for the wild game recipes. Use that mop/baste for your goat.

The best goat I ever had was made like pulled pork. It was grilled until done, then wrapped in foil and steamed a couple of hours until the meat was falling off the bone. Then the cooker removed all the meat from the bones and served it that way, kinda shredded. If you try this, you might mix some of your favorite sauce in with the meat after it's shredded.

You'll have to cut the critter into portions that you can handle. I wouldn't try wrapping a whole goat. I hope this helps. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

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.

Follow Us on Twitter

Save on Your
Favorite Coffee

Coffee For Less
5% off Coupon Code: CFLESS

Free Stuff

Catalogs | Gifts
Cosmetics | DVDs

Special Offers for
Texas Cooking Readers

Justin Boots - Tony Lama Boots - Levi's / Wranglers / Jeans - Search Recipe Cookbook - Fiestaware - People & Chat - Contact Us

© Mesquite Management, Inc. -- ALL RIGHTS RESERVED