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

February 3, 2008

Happy April, boys and girls. This is the month of my birth, a long time ago and about an hundred miles away. I never thought I would get as old as I am. Now that I’m here, I figure I may as well go for the record whatever that is. I do wander off track occasionally. Old people do that. Some wander off from the home without their medication and are found in a weedy, vacant lot a month or so later.

I know everyone is ready for the big upcoming cooking season. You have cleaned out the grill and/or smoker. Your cast iron cookery items are all black and shiny. Your knives are sharp. By this time you should have already used the grill, so you know your charcoal kept over the winter. If you are new to storing charcoal, find a neighbor with a swimming pool and get one of the five gallon, plastic buckets with the screw-on lid that pool chemicals come in. After you clean it, you can keep your charcoal in there safe and dry. It is also a good place to keep your starter and lighter. I keep a pair of cheap, cloth gloves in my bucket for handling greasy grill and black charcoal. Saves a lot of soap and water.

Let us ascertain what we can do to assist the patients who have been so patient today.

Les asks:

Dr John: The white onions I buy don’t keep long once I get them home. They will either start sprouting or they will start to rot from the core. Any ideas?

Les: I had the same problem for a while. I’m not sure what causes it. It has something to do with the biological clock of the onion. I have found that keeping them in the vegetable drawer of the ice box keeps them useable a lot longer. You do want to wrap them tight with plastic or a bag to keep the odor confined. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Charlotte wants to know:

What is a chipotle? I see chipotle everywhere in the store and in the restaurants. I’m just curious.

Charlotte: A chipotle is a ripe jalapeño pepper that has been smoked. The end product is not exactly dried; it is more like jerky. A lot of people really like the smoky flavor the chipotle gives various dishes. I’m not sure how the commercial chipotle makers prepare their product. It is probably turned in a large drum with smoke applied. The original and traditional method of preparing chipotle involves a pit dug in the ground for the fire and clay pipe to funnel the smoke to the container where the peppers are being cured. This gives a cold smoke rather than a warm smoke. Fair warning: Some of the dried chipotles you can get are hot with pepper. Proceed with caution. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

PD has a fatty brisket:

Hello. I have a new smoker, 24 x 54 inches in .4-inch thick pipe. I cooked my first brisket and it tasted good, BUT it had too much FAT. I cooked it 5 hours at 250-275 degrees, then wrapped it in heavy-duty foil and cooked it 4 more hours. Its weight was 10 pounds. Can you cook the fat away? The foil was full of liquid fat and running over when I took it off the pit!!! Thanks.

PD: First of all, trim all but about a quarter inch of the fat off the brisket before you start cooking it. Briskets naturally contain a lot of fat. That's what makes them taste so good. You can cook all the fat out, but what will be left is shoe leather. All the liquid you find in the foil is not fat. A lot of it is the delicious juice of the brisket. Next time, carefully save all the juice from the foil. Put it in a suitable container and put it in the ice box for a couple of hours. The fat will harden on the top and you can remove and discard it. The remainder of the juices can go into your finishing sauce, or serve it just plain and warm with your brisket.

Also, there are two types of brisket on the market. First is the packer trimmed which comes in the vacuum sealed plastic. The other is market trimmed. The market trimmed one will be from the "toe" of the brisket and contain very little fat. It will not be as good at the packer trimmed one, but you might try it and see if it suits you. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Doug is cooking chicken:

I am told I should marinate the chicken breasts I'm cooking for a barbecue this weekend. I'm new to cooking, and I don't know where to start. What is marinating and how do I do it? We like our chicken really, really hot.

Hey Doug: Mix this up.

  • 1/2 cup oil (vegetable or olive)
  • 1/2 cup thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 Teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon or more Tabasco (for the heat)
Wash your chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. One hour before you get ready to cook, put the chicken and the marinade mix in a big enough zip-lock plastic bag. Squish it around so it gets all over the chicken. Let it set at room temperature for the hour. Remove the chicken and put it on the grill. Save the marinade in a bowl and every time you turn the chicken give it a brushing with the marinade. The marinade tenderizes the meat with the acid and adds flavor. In the future you may want to experiment with different spices in the mix. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

The good Doctor ends this visit with a big "Thank You" to the kind folks who write in and pat the old doctor on the back. That’s what makes it all worthwhile. I wish I could invite you all over for a feed, but I only have three chairs in the whole apartment.

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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