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

September 2, 2009

Good morning boys and girls. Here we are in September again. In Texas that means it will begin to cool down a little. It has been a long, hot summer. To date we have had over 60 days of 100° or warmer weather.

The good doctor did manage to get over to the big Taylor International Barbecue Cook-Off recently and passed judgment on the lamb category and the brisket category. The lamb was outstanding, very flavorful and juicy. The brisket would have not made good chopped beef sandwiches in a cheap joint. I don't know how anyone can cook something for eight hours and get absolutely no flavor in it. Perhaps they need to come in to see the Doctor. But life goes on. We have some patients waiting, so let's get to 'em.

John is building a new smoker:

Hello Doc. I have a new stainless 55-gallon drum that I am making a smoker out of. A friend of mine made me a firebox that I am going to attach to one side of the drum. I thought he was going to make it out of carbon steel sheet and skin it with stainless, but when I went to pick it up I saw that he had made the inner box from galvanized sheet instead and the outer skin is stainless.

Will the galvanized (zinc) slowly cook off of the inside of the firebox and transfer through to the drum side onto my meat? I am in the chemical business so I know a bit about this and I can easily remove the galvanizing with a bit of an acid treatment before cooking in it. Any thoughts? Regards.

John: I have been told all my life that using galvanize in a cooker was deadly. When heated, the galvanizing is supposed to emit toxic fumes. But I know people who have cooked in galvanized smokers all their lives and suffered no ill effects. I have been all over the Internet studying the situation. About half the experts say there is no harm in using galvanize, the other half say it is not a good idea. To be part of this politically correct society, I would lose the galvanize just to be on the safe side. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Margarette asks for measurements:

Dr. John: As I never much measure anything nor follow a recipe, is there a good rule for how much salt and pepper to, say, a cup of flour for frying chicken or steak? Thank you!

Margarette: I don't measure anything either, but I do estimate pretty close. I would say for one cup of flour use one-half teaspoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of black pepper. You can adjust to your personal tastes. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Tina & Duane are going large batch:

Hi Dr. John: I need some advice from someone who obviously has the experience I'm looking for. I have entered some small chili cook-offs in which I was able to make my chili at home and transport it. However, I want to enter our town's big competition for which I need to make a minimum of 10 gallons on site. I was daunted by this last year and opted not to enter but to simply attend and scope out how others were managing it.

The organizers provide propane, and all the participants I saw used turkey fryers, camp stoves, gas grills or some combination. I think I want to get a turkey fryer for combining ingredients and use the camp stove and skillet for browning meat and onions in smaller batches.

The biggest turkey fryer pot I can find is 30 quarts, so at best I would need to make two batches. Veggies cannot be pre-chopped, but meat can be pre-ground at the source of purchase (and I use boneless beef stew cut extra small for about half of my meat). I plan to ask the butcher to chop and wrap for me so that is done and ready to go. I am shooting for preparing 15 gallons if I can, because I know those who run out don't get votes. Can you offer me any advice on how to manage and organize? I would surely appreciate any words of wisdom you might have! Thanks.

Dear Folks: It sounds to me like you have a good plan in place. The one concern I would have is the use of the turkey fryer. These things are designed to heat oil, not to cook in. It will work, but you will have to be extra careful that your chili does not scorch or worse.

You will need a stirring instrument that will reach all the way to the bottom of the pot. It would need to have square corners or a point so you can get in the corners around the bottom. A modified wooden boat paddle might be the answer. You don't want to use any wood that would have a flavor, like pine.

Also keep the chili a bit on the "loose" side. Don't let it get so thick that it's hard to stir.

Other than that, just use your good common sense and have fun. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Sandra is looking for coleslaw information:

Dr. John: We like coleslaw, but all the mayonnaise and the cream called for just don't fit into our lifestyle. Do you have any suggestions?

Sandra: I hear you. Coleslaw is pretty much a Texas staple. My current version is about as healthy as you can get. To my shredded cabbage I add equal parts white vinegar and Splenda sweetener. Just a tad of salt and a light shake of black pepper suits me. You can shred in some carrots for color and onion for extra flavor.

My measurement for my batch, which is about four cups of shredded cabbage, is one-third cup of vinegar and one-third cup of Splenda. You can adjust as needed. Save the cream for making ice cream, which is health food if you leave out the cabbage. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

See everyone here in the office next month. Have a happy Labor Day!

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

Traditional Texas Food Articles
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