The doctor has been real busy with the reference books this month. Heís getting lots of good, interesting questions from his readers.

When this column started there was a person who wanted a recipe for Sheriff Smoot Schmidís chili, which I did not have at the time. If that person is still out there, Iíve found the recipe. Email me and Iíll send you a copy.

Okay, time to solve this monthís problems. Our first question comes from Bill Buck. Bill says:

Hi. I downloaded both "Brisket from B to T" and "Barbecue 101, [Editorís note: See Brisket from B to T and Barbecue 101) and followed your instructions to smoke a brisket. The brisket weighed 4.6 lbs., and I put it on at 10 AM. The temperature in the smoker got no higher than 225 degrees and was usually between 200 and about 210. I timed the turning and mopping, and checked the temperature with a meat thermometer. When I inserted the thermometer, the meat was juicy and about 160 degrees. I continued to smoke the brisket until the temperature reached about 185 degrees, still turning and mopping. I took it out of the smoker about 4:45 PM and let it sit for the 20 minutes indicated in your instructions. The meat was delicious, but was not as tender as it should have been. Any suggestions? Next time I'm thinking about boiling the brisket for about 3 hours before I put it in the smoker to finish it.

Hey Bill Ė

Oh gosh, the best plans of mice and men . . . First thing I think is, was the brisket "market trimmed"? That is, was it from the flat part of the brisket with all the fat trimmed off? These will not tender up like the whole brisket which is called "Packer trimmed" and comes in a plastic bag.

We like big briskets, 10 to 12 pounds with all the fat intact. You trim off some of the fat so that none is more than about a half inch thick. You start with the fat side up so the meat is self-basting for most of the cooking cycle. Also, you cooked the thing for about 7 hours. Might need to add a couple of hours. It's common for briskets to stay on the cooker 12 to 24 hours.

There is a way to tender up a rock if you please. Wrap the meat in heavy-duty foil after 3 or 4 hours on the smoker, and put in about a 350-degree oven for about three quarters of an hour. It won't be as flavorful, but I guarantee it will be tender. Watch for hot juice when you open it. Put the juice in your dipping sauce. Hope this helps. Lemme know how it works next time. Thanks for writing

Dr. John

David Vaughn from Helsingborg, Sweden, writes:

I'm finally about to splurge on a gas-fired barbecue -- the European equivalent of a Weber -- with lava rock, hood, etc, made (I believe) of cast aluminum. What's the best way to prepare and maintain this for many years of happy use? Any tips? Thanks.

David Ė

First thing is to read all the instructions that come with the unit. As for breaking it in, it is recommended that you start a slow fire and increase the heat until you get it to about 450 degrees. Let it sit there for about twenty minutes and then turn it off and let it cool. Wipe everything out that you can.

Wash your cooking grids in warm, soapy water before you use them. Put a light coat of vegetable oil on them each time you use the cooker. Clean everything after each use. The volcano rocks should last about a year unless you get lots of grease on them. Just keep everything clean and keep it covered when you are not using it. Happy cooking. Thanks for writing.

Dr. John

Felton Stallings writes:

I am what I consider a novice outdoor cook. I seem to do pretty good on most, but cannot do a prime rib to satisfaction. I have ruined some pretty expensive cuts of meat! I love your website and hope you have some suggestions. Thanks.

P.S. I've always done brisket with a dry rub for Motherís Day, but Iím doing one your way.

Howdy Felton Ė

I've never done a prime rib being I'm poor and can't afford one. My buddy Smoky Hale says in his new book that it's simple. Smoky says the most important thing to remember is that you serve prime rib rare. He says to let the roast sit out of the ice box until it comes up to room temperature before you put it on the grill. He recommends a rub with lemon juice and a good sprinkle of black pepper for seasoning. You want to sear the roast over a real hot bed of coals. When that's done, you lower the temperature and let it cook for about thirty minutes or to an internal temperature of about 155 degrees. Let is sit for about 15 minutes before you carve it. Hope this helps. How did that brisket turn out? Thanks for writing.

Dr. John

The Doctor enjoys helping the Texas Cooking readers with their problems. He does recommend that for recipes you first check the texascooking.com recipe book (Grandmaís Cookbook). If itís there, it will save you a lot of time waiting for a reply from the Doctor.

The Doctor is looking forward to opening his mailbox in the coming days and finding problems that need solving. Thanks for reading texascooking.com.