The Doctor has a small request of his clients. When you write in asking me about something you want to find, tell me where you are located. It will make my job a lot easier and quicker to accomplish.

Wendy writes: About 20 years ago I was on my way back from Ocean City, Maryland. About 10 miles or so north of The Bay Bridge, a church was having a chicken barbecue. I stopped and bought a half of a chicken with some slaw. It was the best chicken I have ever had in my life to this day! I left and started down the road, crossed the Bay Bridge and just couldn't take it!! I found a place to turn around and went back. I begged the people holding the barbecue to tell me how to make the "DIP" they were soaking the chicken in. The man would not sell me any of the dry ingredients. He told me the name of the commercial supplier, but I tried and couldn't find them. About all I could tell you is it came in about 50 pound sacks with a woman's name, like Mrs. Something, or grandma's, whatever. The men were mixing the contents of the sack with water, I think, to make a solution that looked like a bucket of hog slop!! They soaked the chickens in this, and then put them on a wire grill to drip and dry some. Then they grilled them. The flavor was awesome. There was a sour vinegar-type taste that was out of this world. Do you have any idea what or how to make this type of DIP? I would appreciate it very much.

Gosh, unknown chicken marinade from 1982. I'm good, but some things are just beyond me. Here's what I recommend. Go to the bookstore and get a copy of Paul Kirk's "Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue Sauces," published by The Harvard Common Press. When you get the book, start with Part 3, "Marinades". With a little experimentation, I think you can come up with a good substitute for the Mystery Marinade. Thanks for writing, and maybe some of the readers out there can come up with the name of your "Dip."
Dr. John

Joe writes: Hi! We recently received an outdoor oil turkey cooker. We received no instructions with it. Could you help us out on how to use it? Thanks for any advice you can give us.

Howdy Joe: You can find recipes for frying turkey at For a book, look at Look under products for "turkey deep-fry cookbook." Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Linda writes: Hi. I bought a Brinkmann electric smoker and proceeded to try and smoke a brisket. Yesterday, after 13 hours in the smoker the brisket was still tough as a boot. I removed it from the smoker and, since it was late, put it into the fridge overnight. To try and rescue it this morning, I have put it into the oven at about 300. What I am wondering now is if this meat is going to be safe to eat, assuming it ever gets tender, or am I just inviting bacteria? Thanks.

Hey, Linda. Oh Gosh. I hate it when that happens. The barbecue don't get done, and you have to feed your guest Spam or weenies.

I don't know what went wrong. I don't have much faith in electric smokers. Does your smoker have a thermometer on it? What was the cooking temperature? Should have been 250-300 degrees. You want the internal temperature of the brisket to get up to 170-180 degrees. I don't think there will be a problem with finishing the cooking in the oven. Provided you took the brisket from the grill to the refrigerator without letting it set for any extended time. But, if in doubt -- throw it out.

If you haven't already put the brisket in the oven, wrap it real tight in heavy-duty foil. About an hour or and hour and a half at 350 should tender it up. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Bert writes: I am looking for recipes using the pepper Pasilla Bajia. Can you help? Thanks.

Bert: These peppers don't have much meat to them. You can process them into powder or made a paste with the dried pods. To make a powder, remove the stems and seeds and run them through a spice grinder until you have a fine powder. To make paste, remove the stems and seeds. Put the peppers in a heavy bowl, pour boiling water over them, and let them set about thirty minutes. Then, puree them in a blender using as much of the water they set in as needed. The paste or powder can be used in any recipes calling for chili powder or paste. I can't find a specific recipe for them. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Cindy writes: I want to get my husband a good smoker for Father's Day. We have owned a Brinkmann charcoal and a Brinkmann electric and have managed to produce some wonderful smoked brisket. He is ready to step up to a higher level of BBQing. He would like to have a wood smoker that has an offset firebox. What brands/models do you recommend?

Hey, Cindy. You didn't say where you are, so I don't know what's available in your area. First of all, get a smoker that's just a little larger than you think you need. That will eliminate the need to get a bigger one later on. You want heavy metal construction. Metal should be at least 1/8 inch thick, and 1/4 inch would be better. Look for smooth welds. This is a sign of good craftsmanship.

There should be an adjustable air inlet on the firebox. The smoke stack should have some sort of cover on it to keep out the rain. Some come with an adjustment there, too, an asset. It should have wheels large enough for easy rolling. The bigger the wheel, the easier it is to move.

After you get it, you need to "burn it out" before you cook anything on it. That is, build a big, hot fire in it, and let it just sit and heat up for a couple of hours. Then clean out all the residue, and it should be ready for action. Any type you get should come with an instruction book on care and feeding. Good luck and thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Ken writes: Doc, here's a simple question, but one I always pause on prior to cooking meat. Everyone knows that chicken needs to be washed prior to cooking. But what about red meat such as steaks, ribs, brisket? Thanks, KW.

Hey Ken: Regardless of what the TV tells us, the meat processors are not intent on poisoning their customers. They do everything possible to insure the quality of their product. Although there is an occasional slip-up, I don't think it is necessary to wash red meat.

On the other hand, washing it will not hurt anything. All the bad bugs die at a temperature of over 140 degrees. If you eat the meat raw or really, really rare, you better be sure of the quality of the meat. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John