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

Cindy Bighorse writes:

Dear Dr. John -- For Christmas I received a smoker along with the hint,"Don't worry about the cost of your gift, you'll pay us back in meals". So I started surfing and found a couple of sites that offered great advice on grilling, barbecuing, and smoking. (Yes, one site belongs to you.) The one bit of information I cannot locate for the novice smoker is, "How much wood should a wood chick chuck (into my smoker)?" In other words, how much wood or charcoal should I have on hand to smoke a brisket? Do I need to pick up a small bundle or two sold at the local grocery store or fill up the back of my truck for this all day event?

Hey Cindy: You forgot to tell me how big your smoker is. However, being I am The Man, I think I can help. First of all, don't get them little bundles of wood that are way overpriced in front of the Waggie-Baggie stores. You don't know what kind it is or where it's been. It could have been sprayed with something really bad. You want a good hardwood -- oak, mesquite, hickory, or pecan. Ask around the folks who sell fireplace wood. Or if there is a barbecue cafe in town, ask where they get their wood. You don't want anything bigger than about three inches in diameter. Ten pounds of charcoal should do a brisket in 6 to 8 hours. It will probably take 8 to 10 sticks of wood, three inches in diameter and two feet long for the same time period. It's a learning process. You just gotta try it and see what happens. Just remember, you want to burn the wood down to coals before you start. You don't want any flames in the smoker. Holler back if you need more suggestions. Thanks for writing.

A corn lover writes:

Awhile back in one of my Texas monthly magazines, there was an article featuring different restaurants around the state. One such place had their spread on the table, and one dish was "fried corn-on-the-cob". I've never heard of it, but it sounds great. I fry lots of turkeys and it would be simple to throw the cobs in the vat, but I don't know how long to cook? Pull the silk off? Seasoning? Ever heard of such? Thanks.

Hey Corn Lover: This is a new one on me, too. I found reference to one site with "deep fried corn on the cob" but the page was off line. I don't see why it wouldn't work. Shuck and trim the ears, remove all the silk. Probably need a basket to keep them handy in the oil. I would think about two minutes would do the job. Any seasoning would come off in the oil, so don't bother with that. Try a couple of ears, being careful that they don't tend to explode due to high moisture content. I really wouldn't try popcorn. Thanks for writing.

Bev, a lady with a big job ahead writes:

Dear Dr. John: We are attempting to cook in a Dutch oven (i.e., "iron" cookware) lunch for approximately 80 men. It is a training conference for counselors of a church boys' group. It is February 24, so an immediate response would be nice; however, there is always next year (provided we survive this year). My question is: What recipes would you prepare for that size group? Thank you.

Hey Bev: I would go with the Dutch oven version of pot roast. Gonna take several ovens, you know. Season and flour the roast, brown it on all sides in some oil in the oven and then cover the roast with veggies. Be sure and put onion and bell pepper on first, then potatoes, carrots, cabbage, whatever you think would be good. Cook it real slow for three or four hours, maybe more if you have time. Make some Dutch oven cornbread to go with the roast. A Dutch oven cobbler for dessert. Ymmmm. Secret, ssssssh, don't tell: Season the roast and vegetables with Lawry's seasoned salt. Thanks for writing.

Note: Bev got the information in time.

Barbara, one of my favorite readers writes:

Dr. John -- You said you would like to know about cleaning a cast iron skillet in a self-cleaning oven. I've done it, and it is the best way to go. Be sure to turn the skillet up side down. Wonderful results. Of course, it is like new and you have to re-season it.

Thank you, Darlin'. I had one feller tell me he tried the self-cleaning oven deal and smoked the house up so bad he had to get a divorce. I've started telling folks to use a gas grill to do the cleaning. Personally, I like a big old mesquite campfire. Bury the skillet or whatever in the coals and come get it when the fire goes out. Thanks again.

Dan writes:

I am getting ready to do add a new item on a large cookoff we do every year, and I saw your site, I hope you can help. I would like to know if you have a good way and a recipe for cooking roasted corn on the pit. I have always heard to take the corn in the husk, soak it in water overnight and put it the next day on the pit and cook it. How long? How do you pre-butter and season it while it is in the husk? Do you have any step-by-step thoughts? Thanks, Dan.

Hey Dan -- Corn is something you can't hardly mess up unless you really try. First off, you want the corn as fresh as you can get it. Pull the shucks back and remove all the silk. If you want to preseason it, this is the time. I would mix up some soft butter and enough salt to taste and give each ear a good slathering with this. Pull the husk back in place. If they don't want to stay, tear off a strip of the husk and tie the ends. You don't need to soak the ears. Just place them over or near a good bed of coals and rotate them to get an even heating. When they are hot, they are ready. I can't predict how long it will take. You just have to shuck one back every once in a while until you get the heat you desire. Don't worry about anything being "raw"; if it's warm/hot, it's done. Have plenty of napkins. Thanks for writing.

Kenneth writes:

I'm ready to grill up a batch of spare ribs. What is your favorite rub and recipe?

Hey Ken -- In this case I believe less is more. I season the ribs with salt, fresh black pepper and a little garlic powder. Slow grill them with oak smoke. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. In a pinch, Kraft original recipe is hard to beat. Have lots of napkins on hand. Thanks for writing.

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

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