Dateline: June 2, 2004

Medical Bulletin:
There is an epidemic of the cast iron seasoning syndrome going around. When you buy new cast iron cookware or recondition used iron, it needs to be properly seasoned before putting it into use. Here's how:

With new equipment
Carefully read and follow the instructions for seasoning which will tell you to wash your new vessel with hot, soapy water until all the preservative is gone. Dry the pot completely with paper towels or whatever. Set it on the burner and warm it up with lid on if there is a lid until any evidence of steam is gone. When it is cool enough to handle, give it a good coating of quality vegetable oil such as Wesson or Crisco, inside and out. Add enough oil to cover the bottom. Place it in a 350F degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the iron from the oven and carefully wipe the oil all over the sides and bottom.

Put more oil in the bottom of the iron. Put it in a 200F degree oven for one hour. Turn the oven off and let the iron stay in overnight. In the morning, give the iron a light coating of oil on all surfaces. It is now ready to use. Store it in a dry place. If it has a lid, leave the lid slightly ajar so air can circulate in it.

With used equipment
Clean all the gunk and rust off the item and season is as if it were new.

Now back to your regular programming.

The doctor is in and the waiting room is full of patients with ailing viands. Let's not tarry.

Dan writes: Dr John! I am brand new to smoking. I just bought a charcoal Brinkman Smoke and Grill. Since I am new, I am trying out a simple piece of meat first. I bought a 2-pound London Broil Cab. What ideas do you have for something like this? Is a dry rub or sauce too much? I am trying to find a brisket outside of Philadelphia. ARGH! I hope that you can help me on this. If it is best to leave it plain, I will do that. Teach me! Thanks.

Hi Dan: The London broil is a lean, tough cut of meat. It would be best to marinate it overnight. For a lean cut like this, you need to baste it with an oil base baste while cooking it. Easy way is to use Italian dressing. The marinade and dressing is going to flavor the meat, so you will probably only need to add salt.

Go back to the Texas Cooking home page. Find the Traditional Texas Fare link on the menu in the upper right corner. Go there and read up on the barbecue and grilling tips. You can find marinade recipes there, too. One other thing, when you slice the broil, slice it thin, across the grain. Good luck.
Dr. John

Cheresa writes: My grandma use to make a homemade chocolate pie with meringue topping. She did not use chocolate squares or chips. I think she used Hershey's cocoa. Can you help?

Hi Cheresa: Here's an old-time chocolate pie filling recipe. I trust you know how to make meringue. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Chocolate Pie Filling

Combine sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt in heavy saucepan; mix well. Combine milk and egg yolks, and beat with a wire whisk 1 to 2 minutes or until frothy. Gradually stir into sugar mixture, mixing well. Place over medium heat and stir constantly until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla, mix well. Pour into baked pie shell, top with meringue and brown in oven.

Norm (nah, not that Norm) writes: The most frustrating salsa thing I deal with is the consistency. I don't like salsa that is very chunky (the tomato bits) unless it is Pico de Gallo. Do you have El Torito restaurants in Texas? Their salsa is the way I like it. I'd describe it as lumpy, not chunky. I even bought a food processor after my blender bouts either reduced the stuff to soup or left it too chunky. I have not used any added liquid (water or Spicy V8), but maybe I should. By the way, my recipe includes, celery, Italian tomatoes, cilantro, anaheims, jalepeños and onions. Any suggestions?

P.S.: The reason I like Mexican salsa is that there is NO vinegar in it. A little Jose C might be okay, though.

Hi Norm: Try roasting your vegetables before you process them. Put them on a cookie sheet in a 350F degree oven for about 20 minutes. You don't want to cook them soft, just kinda tender them up a little. Turn them a couple of times to get an even sear. When they are cool enough, remove the skins as best you can. Give this a try and let me know how it works. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John