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

March 2, 2009

Spring is nearly here. It happens just as regular as clockwork. Those of us here in the Texas Hill Country really would like to have some spring rains. It is so dry here that the rocks are crawling around looking for moisture.

After I did last month's tribute to Texas Food Celebrations, I got an email from Vicki over in East Texas. Vicki wanted to know why I had not included a recipe for Hopkins County Stew. I told her I had looked on the Internet and did not find any recipe I thought to be authentic. Vicki sent me her family recipe. It's nice readers like Vicki that make my job so enjoyable. The recipe will appear in Grandma's Cookbook.

Vicki writes:

I talked to my mother, who grew up in Hopkins County. She said the original recipe mostly just has corn and tomatoes in addition to the chicken, because that's what most people had and could bring to the pot. But our family enjoys a few more vegetables, just to add texture, color and flavor. Sometimes I use left-over vegetables; sometimes I just add one mini-size can, each, of lima beans, peas, green beans, corn and carrots. If I'm being lazy I'll substitute a can or half a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. This is how I do it:
  • 1 whole chicken, washed and thoroughly plucked
  • 1/2 onion, chopped (a whole onion if you really like onion)
  • 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 1 large can stewed tomatoes
  • One-serving size cans of vegetables (corn, peas, limas, carrots, beans)
  • 1 large russet potato
  • Bay leaf
  • Dried hot pepper pod
In a soup pot or Dutch oven, place the chicken and enough water to cover it. Add onion and celery. Cook the chicken on medium heat until the chicken leg easily tears away from the body. With tongs, remove chicken parts to a platter to cool.

Add tomatoes and vegetables of choice (but particularly corn) to the pot. Dice the potato and add to the pot. Add the chicken broth, salt and pepper, a bay leaf, and a dried pepper. Cover and cook on medium-low until potatoes are tender. Adjust seasoning. Reduce heat to simmer as you skin and de-bone the chicken and dice the meat. Add the diced chicken and simmer until meat is re-heated, but do not boil. Remove pepper pod and bay leaf.

Serve with cornbread for a hardy, healthy, delicious meal. Leftovers will be even better the next day. You may want to freeze half and save it for a chilly day.

To reduce the fat, let the broth cool after you remove the chicken pieces, and store overnight in the refrigerator. Skim off the congealed fat. About an hour before serving, start the rest of the procedure.

Bettie wants to know how to cook a tri-tip:

Dr. John, how do I cook a tri-tip roast?

Bettie: First of all, the tri-tip is a lesser known cut of sirloin. For years it was the official "barbecue" of California. The Californians would construct a large bed of hardwood coals. The tri-tips were skewered on metal rods and cooked over the coals hot and fast. They would be crusty outside and rare in the center.

Were I to cook one, I would grill it over a real hot bed of coals. Good sirloin needs only salt and pepper for seasoning. You can cook it in a variety of ways. There are dozens of recipes and techniques listed on the Internet, browse around and see what looks good to you. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Sarah has a bean question:

I have been appointed to cook beans for my outdoor club's next outing. I need to cook enough for about 75 people. How many beans do I cook? Also, do you have any bean tips?

Sarah: A pound of dry beans will make enough to feed ten people. So you will need seven and a half pounds. To be on the safe side, cook eight pounds. Leftovers will keep.

You didn't say what kind of beans you were cooking. In this part of the country, pinto beans are the norm. No matter what type of bean you cook, they all work best when you soak them overnight. The latest is to soak them in salted water. Use about three tablespoons of salt per gallon of water. So, soak the beans overnight. You want to drain the beans and rinse off the salt before you start cooking them. Cover them with about an inch of fresh water, cover, and cook until tender. Check occasionally and add water if necessary.

Any beans go good with a bit of bacon or ham cooked with them. Good luck and thanks for writing Texas Cooking.
Dr. John

Rita needs a Cajun cake recipe:

I ate this cakes at one of our seafood restaurants and it was so, so good and really moist. The cake is called Cajun Cake, and it's made with pineapple, pecan and coconut icing. Can you give me a list of all the ingredients to make this wonderful cake? Thank you so much.

Hi Rita: Here you go:

Cajun Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1-1/2 cups flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch pan.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, 1-1/2 cups sugar, salt and baking soda. Add the eggs, pineapple and juice. Mix at low speed until well blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 30 to 35 minutes or until done. Have topping ready when cake is done.

To make topping: In a saucepan, combine milk, 3/4 cup sugar and butter. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add pecans and coconut and combine. Remove from heat. When cake comes out of the oven, pour on the topping and carefully spread while cake is still hot.

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
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