Frank writes: What is the best recipe for jalapeño cornbread?

Hey Frank. Try this:

George's Jalapeño Cornbread
by George Pearce

Preheat a 10" Dutch oven with a few coals on the top and bottom, liberally greased of course. If you are homebound, preheat the oven to 400F degrees, grease a 10" cast iron skillet, and preheat it in the oven.

In one bowl, combine the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine the onion, jalapenos, cheese and pimentos. Add the two together and mix until combined. In the bowl you just emptied, mix the eggs, milk and oil. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and stir until just moistened. Pour into your preheated Dutch oven or skillet. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until it's done.

P.S.: If you don't have a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet, just use a baking pan in your oven at 400F degrees.

Thanks for writing.

George writes: Having moved to the South many years ago, the only way I can get good brisket is to learn to cook it myself. I have an Oklahoma Joe cooker, but my first attempts have been disappointing. I use pecan, cooking an 11-pound brisket around 12 hours at low (180-200) heat. I cook it uncovered for about 6 hours, then cover it with foil for the last five. It comes out of the cooker with good flavor, but tough. Texas brisket normally falls apart. Any suggestions?

George: The doctor prescribes more heat. After your six hours of cool smoke, wrap the brisket as usual. Then raise the temperature to about 350. Check it after two hours, if it ain't tender by then, give it another hour or two. If that don't do it, your butcher may be selling you old, wore out rodeo stock. Lemme know what happens. Thanks for writing.

Donald writes: Hello. For the last 50 years, my father's father, my father, and I have been cooking chili. Each batch takes its own character due to the fresh stuff that I put into it. I have been making chili for at least 25 years myself. To my dismay, the key to my chili seems to be the chili powder. I have always used Mexene.The last year, my supply has dried up and I cannot find it anymore. I even told my local grocer(s) that I would buy a case of it should they locate it. Do you have any information about this? If so, please email me the details. This would make me and my friends very happy. Thanks in advance for your help

Hey Don: I don't know what happened to your Mexene supply. It's one of my favorites, too, but I haven't looked for it in a while. As best I know, you can get it from www.louisianscupboard.com . I think it was made by Walker's in Austin, but I believe Walker's sold out to Castleberry/Snow Brands, Inc. They list an "Austex" brand, and are located in Augusta, Georgia. Maybe the Louisiana Cupboard can give you some info on what happened. Thanks for writing.

Billy & June write: Hi Dr. John. First I want to thank you for pointing me in the direction of finding The Great American Chili Book by Bill Bridges. I have the hard cover, which he signed, and a paperback version. They are slightly different, but both are just like brand new. Thank you so much.

Now my question: I have an old recipe for stewing beef to serve over noodles. Basically the beef cubes are dredged in seasoned flour, then browned in onion oil. Then I add 2 quarts of homemade chicken stock, bring it to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a low simmer until the beef is tender. Next I take 3 tablespoons of the leftover seasoned flour and 3 tablespoons of butter, work them together and add to the stockpot after it comes back to a boil. Whisk until the gravy is as thick as desired. Well, I did this operation yesterday and for the first time in years, it didn't work. That stock is almost the same consistency as it was before I added the flour and butter. Got any idea what could have gone wrong? Again, thanks for all the neat stuff you have taught me. Keep the articles coming.

Billy & June: My opinion is that the butter and flour need to be cooked before adding to the stew. Use a small, heavy skillet or saucepan.Cook the butter and flour until they turn just slightly brown. This is a roux. If this don't work, holler back and I'll think of something else. Thanks for writing.

[Addendum: Billy wrote back that the roux method worked just fine. dj]

PEZGAL writes: Hi Dr. John. I'm looking for a great marinade for a tri-tip roast. Also, can you tell me how long I would barbecue a 2-1/2 lb. Tri-tip roast (medium rare)? Thanks so much. Any way you can answer as soon as possible? I would like to make this for a special occasion tomorrow.

Hey Pezgal: I hope this shows up in time. Tri-Tip Marinade

Marinate at least 4 hours or overnight. Place tri-tip on hot barbecue grill. Cover. Turn every 15-20 minutes until done, approx. 30-45 minutes. Slice thin.

Thanks for writing.

Dr. John