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

April 1, 2009

The month of March brought a cold spell that had the good doctor searching for his cap and mittens. The only thing of merit about the cold spell was that we got our first decent rain in a long time. It looks now like the heartier cactus will survive.

Often the doctor gets the question, "How long do I cook something, or how do I know when it's done?" The obvious answer is "Until it's done." Of course, this makes for awkward silences between doctor and patient. The doctor therefore presents a bit of a primer on cooking times and internal temperatures.

For cooking beef, roasting it in the oven at 325°F will take 25 to 30 minutes per pound. For medium rare roast, you want the internal temperature to reach 145°F in the center of the cut. (If you don't have a good meat thermometer, for heavens sakes get one; they are not expensive). An internal temp of 160°F will give you a medium roast, and 170°F will give you a well done roast.

Grilling a 3/4-inch steak will require 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium rare and 6 to 7 minutes per side for a medium steak.

When cooking pork, it should be cooked to an internal temp of 160°F to be on the safe side. We don't eat rare pork. A large pork loin will take from 20 to 30 minutes per pound to cook in a 350°F oven. A Boston butt roast will take about 45 minutes per pound.

Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 175°F to 180°F to be safe. Roasting a chicken in the oven at 350°F will take about an hour to an hour and a half for a 2- to 3-pound bird. A 4 to 6 pounder will require an hour and three quarters.

On the grill, a whole chicken of about 3 to 4 pounds will take about an hour. The popular boneless half chicken breast should, in the 4-ounce size, take 8 to 10 minutes per side. A 6- to 8-ounce breast will require about 10 to 15 minutes per side.

The good doctor could spend the rest of the day giving cooking times and temperatures, but there are more pressing matters to attend to. Just use the above as guidelines to get you started. Again, get a good meat thermometer and learn how to use it. I guarantee it will take a lot of stress out of your cooking life.

Okay, now down to the business at hand. It is getting on to income tax time again, and the good doctor needs to see all the patients he can.

Bettie says:

Dr John, my aunt made great salmon patties. I never did get a recipe. Can you come up with an authentic recipe?

Bettie: I can tell you how to make my version of salmon patties. It is the way my mother made them, so they have been around for a while. You will need:

  • 1 regular size can of pink salmon
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup- minced onion
  • Salt-black pepper
  • Flour
  • Cooking oil
Drain the salmon; discard the liquid. In a large bowl break the salmon up with a wooden spoon. Add the egg and onion. Give it a light sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Mix well until ingredients are sticky. Mix in flour starting with about a quarter cup. Mix and add flour until you can form the mix into patties. The patties work best about three inches in diameter and half an inch thick.

Fry the patties in about a quarter inch of hot cooking oil until brown on the bottom, turn and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels; keep warm. [You can also use finely crushed cracker crumbs instead of the flour]. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

[Editor's note: Another good old-fashioned recipe for Salmon Patties can be found in Grandma's Cookbook.]

Susan wants to keep the family pit active:

My dad made a BBQ pit out of oilfield pipe. He used it many times before he passed away. It has been 5 years since it has been used. What do I need to do to get this grill ready for use? The cooking grates are rusted, but don't appear to be cracked. Should I replace them?

Hi Sherry: First thing, go through and sweep out all the mud dauber nests, bird nests and rat nests. Build a big fire in the thing and get it real hot. Let if cool off and wire brush off everything you can. When you get the grates as clean as you can, give them a coat of cooking oil.

Fire the pit again and let everything warm up and then just cool natural. That should put it back in great shape. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Phil needs a strawberry measure:

Many, many recipes call for strawberries measured by the quart or pint. Unfortunately, these delicious berries are no longer sold by that measurement. Today, they are sold by the pound. So, my question is how to determine the quart, pint or even cups available in a pound of berries? I have lots of recipes for strawberries, and none of them give any indication of the relationship between weight and volume.

Hi Paul: The strawberry measuring business has got complicated recently. As you say, they come mostly by the pound now. Also, you get all different size berries. A pint of the huge ones won't contain near as much as a pint of small ones. Best thing is to find a pint box of the size you use and weigh it. Most of the produce sections have scales on hand. That way you will have a base line to work from. 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.

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