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

Dateline: November 3, 2007

Hi boys and girls, what time is it? That's right, it's Turkey Time. It is the time of the year when everyone wants to turn that frozen bird from the supermarket into a family treasure.

The doctor is going to review some of the basic points of turkey cooking, so you don't have to come to the office. If there is something you need to know and the doctor doesn't cover it, whip out an email.

  • The most important step is to get the bird thawed out on time. It usually takes two days in the bottom of the ice box for a turkey to thaw properly. The instructions will be written on the wrapper. Be sure and do this, as you can make a real mess sticking a frozen bird in the oven.
  • Remove the giblets and neck from the body cavity and give everything a good washing with cool water. Pat the little darling dry with paper towels or a lint-free cloth.
  • Simple salt and pepper makes the best seasoning.
  • It is better to cook the stuffing separate from the bird.
  • The brining process is, in the doctor's opinion, a waste of time. The biggest benefit from the salt water bath is more salt on the bird, which makes him taste better.
  • If you are going to deep fry your turkey, make real sure you have an expert on hand. Never but never fry a turkey in a building. Keep the kids a hundred feet away from the deep fryer. Keep the dog tied up. Put the fire department on the speed dial. Have a fire extinguisher of the proper type on hand. Doan ever squirt an oil fire with the water hose.
  • One last item, giblet gravy must have chopped hard boiled eggs in it.

Now let's get to some of the great questions from our readers out there in readerland.

John has a brisket to barbecue.

After reading your Barbecue 101, I'm going to do a "packer trimmed brisket" this weekend.  Having the friends over! Also, I'll be doing this on my Weber kettle, which will be interesting. Any thoughts on the Traeger smokers? Thanks.

Hi John: If you have not already read Brisket from B to T, I recommend you do so. It's more brisket related than Barbecue 101.

I assume you know how your Weber works. Try to keep the temperature between 250 and 275°F. Cooking time depends on the size of your brisket.

The best thing to do ahead of time is to season the brisket. As soon as you get the brisket, give it a good coating of a dry rub. The commercial rubs will work; they all use about the same formula. Seal the seasoned brisket in a zip bag and keep it in the ice box until you are ready for it.

I have not tried any of the Traeger products. I don't think I would like them. Good luck with the weekend. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Carl has a juice question:

In lieu of fresh lime juice, how much bottled lime juice would I use in a recipe for equal quantity. Also, what is the conversion for bottled lemon juice to fresh lemon juice?

Hi Carl: Both bottled lime juice and bottled lemon juice are the equivalent in volume of fresh juice. They will taste a little different from the fresh, but everything else is the same. Make sure you're dealing with bottled juice and not bottled concentrate. You would follow directions on the bottle to dilute the concentrate to the proper strength.
Dr. John

Paul writes:

Why do biscuits crumble? How does one make them hold together?

Hi Paul: First thing, the fat (lard, butter, shortening -- whatever you use) should be real cold when you cut it into the flour mix. You don't want to pulverize the fat. Leave pieces about as big as a buckshot. Overworking the dough can also cause the crumbly effect. You may have to change brands or flour. I always get good results with all-purpose unbleached flour. If this doesn't correct the problem, send me your recipe, and I'll take a shot at it. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John


The doctor just got a call from the National Happy Department reminding him that it's getting into CHILI WEATHER. The doctor has been ordered to post a chili recipe here and now.

Basic Texas Chili

  • 2 pounds beef, round or chuck, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, all white removed
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced (optional)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons blended chili powder, Adams preferred
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • small can tomato sauce
  • cayenne (optional, see below)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • water
In a heavy skillet, sauté the meat in a small amount of oil or shortening until it is gray and gives up its juices. Transfer the meat to stew pot and discard juices.

While the meat is still hot, mix in the onion and garlic, salt and black pepper to taste, and jalapeño, if desired. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

Add enough water to cover the meat. Put in the spices and bring to a simmer. Cook until the meat is tender. You may have to add water if mix becomes too dry. Add the tomato sauce, simmer another 20 minutes.

If the chili is not spicy enough for your taste, add a small amount of cayenne.

Mix two tablespoons flour with one half cup of water. Raise the heat under the chili until you get a good boil. Stir in the flour/water mixture, continue stirring until mixture thickens. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 more minutes. Serve with saltines or tortillas.

The above recipe will get you through many a cold winter night. The traditional accompaniment is saltine crackers and some grated cheese. To make things really special you might want to have some corn chips and tortillas on the table.

The ultimate way to serve chili is in a deep bowl with a topping of shredded cheddar, shredded lettuce and chopped onion with a dab of picante sauce in the middle.

Enjoy, get the Christmas questions in soon. The doctor is making a list and checking it twice.

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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