Dateline: July 1, 2006

Ask Dr John

Here we are already in the second half of 2006. We have a good selection of patients requiring the doctor's assistance so let us not keep them waiting.

Danetta needs roasting advice: I need some ideas on how to cook a pork roast, because I have one and don't know how to cook it. Once I just put one in a cake pan with little bit of water, covered it with foil and stuck in the oven. My family hated it. No one ate it, so if I could get some ideas to make it more tasteful I would surely appreciate it! Thank You!

Hi Danetta: First thing you need to do is get you a decent roasting pan or Dutch oven. They just work better. The roasting pan should have a little rack to keep the roast off the bottom of the pan.

This ought to do it. You may want to change seasonings to suit your family. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Jurgen has a sticky problem: My wife's uncle spends time in Mexico every winter. This time I asked him if he could bring me back a tortilla press. I received a wooden one and a bag of corn masa mix. The problem is if I follow the instructions the tortillas fall apart, and if I add more water they stick. What can I do?

Hi Jurgen: Whoa gosh. First of all, do you put the dough in the ice box a while before trying to flatten it? I have found it works best if you form your dough into golf ball size balls, cover them tightly and put them in the icebox for at least thirty minutes before flattening them.

I have a metal press and I put a sheet of plastic wrap on the bottom and then lay a sheet over the dough before I press it. This will let you peel away the sticky dough fairly easily.

Try these things. If you still have problems write back and I'll check with my experts. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Joe has some rust problems: I have a Brinkman Smoker Grill that is rusty. Can it be painted inside and out? And can I paint the charcoal and water pans? What kind of spray paint should I use?

Hi Joe: Yep, you can paint it. You will need "hot" paint. Best place to find it is at automotive supply store. It's used for painting exhaust plumbing. You know, of course, you have to get off all the rust, grease, etc., so the paint will stick. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Sheila is cooking shrimp: How do I make perfect boiled shrimp? By perfect shrimp I mean shrimp that is juicy and succulent and slips easily from the shell. I love boiled shrimp. Sometimes I get it right -- other times I don't. What causes mushy boiled shrimp? What causes boiled shrimp that sticks to its shell? Please help.

Hi Sheila: Shrimp is very delicate. Of course, you know that. If you use frozen shrimp, be sure and thaw them according to package directions. If they thaw too quickly they can get mushy. In boiling your shrimp, you want to cook them no more than 3-1/2 or 4 minutes. When you put them in the boiling water, start timing then. Don't wait until the water comes back to a boil. This should end the toughness and the sticking to the shell. Hope this helps. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Forest needs Boston Butt advice: I was wondering if you have a good recipe for a rub to add to Boston Butt. I use Steve Raichlens all-purpose rub, but it seems like there would be a rub for pork that would stand out? I would like a rub and sauce recipe that will turn everybody on! I smoke my butts with oak and a little apple wood, but it just seems like there's something missing? I've been doing this for years, but I believe I'm losing my touch (or my mind). Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

Hi Forest: My thinking on the rub is it needs to be spicy. I don't know what your recipe is so I can't adjust that. I would want a good amount of cayenne in my rub, not to the point of being brutal, but you want to know it is there. Also, barbecue of any sort needs a lot of salt. Salt makes anything taste better.

My best advice is for you to get a copy of "Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue Sauces" by Paul Kirk, published by The Harvard Common Press. Paul is a true student of flavors. His book has a lot of rub recipes in addition to the sauces. Experiment a bit and you'll get your magic back. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Rita has a couple of issues: I need to know how to make fluffy, feather-light, tender dumpling to go in my chicken recipe. Mine are tough and gummy. Help me please. I want them to melt in my mouth. Thank you.

Hi Rita: Earlier you wanted to know about your steak and chicken being tough. More than likely you are overcooking it. Start experimenting with testing for doneness earlier. If the pieces are not large enough to check with a thermometer, just slice inside and look. You want no pink in the chicken. The steak can be as done as you like it. I think when the center is still a bit pink it is at its best.

Brick chili is just regular chili cooked with less water. You have to watch it so it doesn't scorch. Any good chili recipe will do. After it cools you put it in a bread pan and stick it in the icebox. When it "sets", you can wrap it in foil or plastic wrap and it will keep for a good while in the ice box. It will keep in the freezer for several months.

Now, about those dumplings. Fluffy dumplings are just biscuits cooked in the pot. Just drop the stiff biscuit dough in the pot which is boiling rapidly. Cover and let cook about twenty minutes. You can fish one out and check it for doneness. You can cheat and use canned biscuits for dumplings if you are in a hurry. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John