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September 2, 2008

Here we go into September. That means the old sun has moved far enough south for the Texas Hills to start cooling. It won’t be long before the aroma of fine Texas chili will again begin to replace the smell of the grill. The grill doesn’t smell bad, but there is just a time for everything.

Let’s see what the readers are up to this go-round.

BIGTEX writes:

Doc, I’m looking for a good recipe for barbeque wild hog. I’ll be cooking on an open pit, using oak or pecan wood. I usually use a rub to start and after the first couple of hours, start mopping. I’ll cook about half a hog (60 to 75 lbs.) can you help me out?

Hey Bigun: I'm assuming you mean feral hog and not Russian boar or Javelina. The feral hog is one of my favorite things. They don't take any special consideration. Just do what you been doing. I don't know what your tastes are in the way of rubs, and I might send you one you can't stand. Go with the oak wood. The pecan is a little mild for pork. You got some good eating ahead of you. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Lin writes:

I read a lot about what chili cook-off judges look for in "red chili", but what do they look for in competition "green chili"?

Hey Lin: We don't do much green chili around here, but we do make a little for personal use now and then. I assume that fixin' competition chili verde would be like chili rojo. First thing is to not to offend anyone. Don’t get it too hot with the peppers. The judges don't want to find anything strange looking in it, such as gristle or big chunks of vegetables. You want it to smell good. A late addition of a little cumin, added about thirty minutes before turn in time, helps there.

An old boy who ought to know told me that if you mix up a little fresh lime juice and some dark brown sugar and add about a tablespoon to the pot just before you turn it in that it perks the whole thing up considerable.

Be sure and get enough salt in your chili. Usually takes more than you think it should have. Try some of your chili over-salted and then taste it the regular way, and you can taste the difference. Hope this helps. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Scheek823 writes:

Do you know where I can purchase capzasin oil? I recently had some sauce with that ingredient and was told it came from an outfit in North Carolina; however, I have been unable to track the company down. Any help is appreciated.

Hey Scheek: I think you are referring to capsaicin oil. This is the chemical in peppers that makes them hot. You would probably find it at a drug store. Or, you may be looking for capsicum oil. Capsicum is the name for the chile pepper family. Oriental cooking uses a hot chile oil that is simply hot chile peppers cooked in oil. You can find that in the Oriental cooking section of most large supermarkets. Good luck and thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Cass writes:

What’s a good way to cook okra? I have only eaten it fried, and I know there should be other ways to prepare it.

Hey Cass: My mama’s recipe for okra was called gumbo. It’s not exactly the same as most of the gumbos, but I really like it. Wash about a pound of okra. Use only the small tender pods without blemishes. Cut off the tops and slice them into about one-half pieces. In a large saucepan sauté a large chopped onion in a little oil until it is transparent. Add a can of tomatoes or a couple of fresh, peeled, chopped tomatoes. Add two or three cups of water. Chicken stock would be better if you have it. Add the okra. Season with salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil and then simmer it until the okra is tender. Adjust the seasoning.

If you want to add a Cajun flavor to the gumbo, make a roux. In a small skillet mix two tablespoons of butter or shortening and two tablespoons of flour. Stir constantly over medium high heat until the flour turns dark brown. If you don’t keep stirring it, it will scorch and you have to throw it away and start over. Add the roux to your gumbo pot after you add the water and it comes to a boil. Stir it in real good. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Jay sez:

Hey there. I have an easy question to answer. I just was given a cheap Brinkman smoker. You know the kind with the charcoal on the bottom, water in the middle, and then two grills. I'm having a hell of a time avoiding burning myself and spilling water with this thing. The charcoal pan has to sit inside the smoker, on its hinges. I plan on buying a nicer smoker, but in the meantime, can you save some of the hair on my fingers? Also, what, in your opinion, is the best way to utilize wood smoke in this kind of smoker? Got any secrets? Thanks for your time.

Hi Jay: When these little buggers came out they were designed to cook without adding fuel. As I remember, you counted out the charcoal bricks for the amount of stuff you had to cook, fired it off and left it until it was done. To get some flavored smoke, apply some wet wood chips to the top of the charcoal as you are loading the thing. For now and for the future, go down to a welding shop and get a pair of insulated welder's gloves. They will save a lot of skin and hair. A big pair of pliers might be helpful, too. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

From Joel:

So, how long can I keep using the peanut oil? Six months? A year? Forever? Do I need to strain it, refrigerate the oil, anything else? Thanks much.

Hi James: The oil will tell you when it's ready to be replaced. It will go to smelling bad. It's a good idea to strain it through some cheesecloth after each use to get out the crumbs and stuff. I don't think you need to refrigerate it, just keep it tightly sealed in a cool place. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

The good doctor will be back in time for Halloween season. Boooooooooooooooooo

If you have a question for Doctor John, send an email to moc.oohay@nevarkeerc
end article

Traditional Texas Food Articles
By Dr. John, Ph.B.

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