Dateline: July 1, 2003

The doctor has a waiting room full of patients again. We better call the first one in.

sco876 writes: I bought a brisket which I am going to use your Texas oven method on, and I noticed that the label on my brisket says that it is a boneless brisket with deckle on. What does that mean?

Hey 876: The deckle is the strip of lean on the pointed end of the brisket. On a "market trimmed" brisket, this is removed and all that is left is the flat, lean portion of the brisket. So you have what is known as a "packer" trimmed brisket. It would be easier to explain if I could draw you a picture. Hope this helps.
Dr. John

John writes: Do ribs that are par-boiled lose the taste that comes with marinating them overnight? Are some ribs better boiled than marinated?

Hey John: When I was with the Cuzin Homer Barbecue Company, we had real good success parboiling the ribs. We used a seasoned boil. There is no recipe, but we used onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, salt and maybe Worcestershire. You want to parboil the ribs until the meat just barely begins to slip on the bone, then go to the grill with them. If you boil marinated ribs, you just boil the flavor right out. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Lee Ann writes: I would appreciate a recipe for making jams without real sugar. Also, what pectin should I utilize?

Hi, Lee Ann: There are several products on the market for making sugarless jams, among them Slim Set, Mrs. Wages Light Home Jell, and Ball 100% Natural Reduced Calorie Fruit Pectin. I think the last would be the best. It comes with all sorts of instructions.

When using artificial sweeteners, Splenda is best for anything cooked as aspartame loses its sweetness when heated. Check them out. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Loyd writes: At our Elks Lodge in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, we serve steaks to the public. I cut the rib eyes and filets. With the small ends of the filets, we like to make kabobs for special events. What would be a good marinade? One of our grocery stores in town sells them in their butcher case, and I was told their basic marinade ingredients were Italian dressing, Liquid smoke and Tiger sauce. Have you heard of one similar to this?

Loyd: Try this:

Bring ingredients to a simmer for two minutes then allow to cool. Place the meat in a plastic bag, pour in the marinade, expel the air and close. Refrigerate for 2 hours to 2 days. Remove the meat, bring the marinade to a boil and use it to baste. Avoid liquid smoke; it's bad stuff. Let me know how you like this recipe.
Dr. John

Louie writes: I have a 10-inch cast iron skillet that has been ignored and has rust in places. How can I prepare this for seasoning? Any advice or referral to help would be appreciated. Have been rubbing it with dry sand, but am about to take it to a machine shop and have it glass beaded. Thanx.

Hi, Louie: Glass beading would be as easy as it gets. If you have some deep rust pits, you might want to feather them in with some 100-grit emery paper.
Dr. John

Kyle writes: Dr. John, we are entered in the Shiner, Texas barbecue cook-off and have entered the Chicken Breasts. Can you help me on it? Sure enjoy your site. Thanks.

Hi, Kyle: Season the breasts with just salt and pepper. Put them on the grill and baste with Italian dressing. When they are almost done, give them a good mopping with:

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
Combine in saucepan and simmer fifteen minutes. Make sure the breasts are just a little saltier than you think they should be. Salt really brings out the flavor. Hope this helps. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Mary writes: Hi, Dr. John. While in Galveston this week, I ate at a couple of places that had crab balls on the menu. They were wonderful! Do you have a recipe for them? Thanks!

Hi, Mary: Try this:

  • 1 pound crabmeat
  • 3 tablespoons self-rising flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3 drops hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
Put crabmeat in bowl, removing shell pieces. Add all ingredients and mix gently until blended. Form into balls. Deep-fry until golden. Yields about 30 balls. If you can't find Old Bay seasoning, just use salt and pepper to taste. Call me when they are done. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Warren writes: Howdy, Dr. John. I planted some jalapeño pepper plants last March. Now they are growing like mad. I really need a simple recipe for pickling them. I have found a few on the web, but you have given me excellent advice in the past and I would like your input. They vary quite a bit. By the way, your chili recipe is excellent!! Had a lot of oohs and ahs when I cooked it. Thank you.

Hey, Warren! I've had good luck pickling jalapeños in just plain 5 percent vinegar. Wash the peppers after removing the stems. Make a small slit in their side. Pack them in the jars with a whole clove of garlic, a bay leaf, several thin slices of carrot and some pearl onions if you can find them. Don't pack the jars too tight.

Pour boiling vinegar over and seal. Make sure all the caps seal. If some don't, do them over again. If you want to put in some salt, use pickling salt. Regular salt will make the juice cloudy. Hope you like this. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

If you would like to direct a question to Ask Doctor John, e-mail it to John Raven, Ph.B.