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

November 2, 2008

Here we are headed into the cold, flu and holiday season. You can get shots for the flu, but you can’t get shots for the holiday season and that is good. The Thanksgiving holiday is when we give thanks for all our blessings of the year. It probably started out as a "thank you" for a good harvest.

A good harvest leads to good eating, and that is why we are all here. The good doctor is ready to share his knowledge with the Texas Cooking readers to solve some of their problems and give advice.

Tom wants to know if he can deep-fry a fresh ham.

Sure, Tom. You just have to work out your cooking times and seasonings. Be careful! That oil is hot and it catches fire real easy. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Jared writes:

I really enjoyed your articles! I recently grilled 100 steaks for a local fire department. I ordered fresh cut, American IBP beef. I seasoned it with salt, pepper and garlic powder. I lit charcoal, and one hour later I started to grill 'em. By the time I pulled off the meat, it had good marks and was white in color. Do you have any ideas about why this happened?

I think it could have been the distance from the heat, which was 7-8 inches, yet the coals were 6 inches thick. Maybe the meat had been frozen on the sly, or something the beef was fed? I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Jared: The meat packing industry is loading the meat with water. The water is to make the meat weigh heavier. We are paying high dollar for water. I approached the Department of Agriculture about it, and they are on the side of the meat packers.

You can find some pork products that are labeled 40% water. There is no way you can fry beef from the supermarket any more. It just turns gray and swells up. The restaurants and chains get the good meat, so their product does not suffer.

The only thing I can tell you is to shop around and see if you can find a place that does not water down its product. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Wanda is looking for Ste. Genevieve wine:

I am trying to find a way to order some wine from this winery. We tried this wine when we were in West Texas a few years ago and fell in love with this Texas wine. Please help me find a distributor in the Brenham area or, if there is a way to order this wine and have it shipped to me, that would be great! I tried to call the winery, but they were no help. You would think that they would want to expose their product to as many people as possible. Thanks for any info or help.

Hi Wanda: I think the deal here is Ste. Genevieve Winery has sold and now goes under the name of Mesa Vineyards Winery. I can find no place on the Internet that lists Ste. Genevieve. Get your local distributor to call Mesa Vineyards Winery at 432-395-2417. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

[Editor's Note - Steve Labinski offers more suggestions on finding St. Genevieve wine in this Texas Cooking message boards thread. We also have an entire article about St. Genevieve wines written back in 1997 on TexasCooking: Texas Winery Offers Appealing Selection.]

Cynthia writes:

I want to know how one becomes a food judge. I am especially interested in the barbecue competitions. Thank You.

Hi Cynthia: Run a Google search for "barbecue judging school", and you'll get a whole list of people who run the schools. As for things other than barbecue, the best way to get started is to volunteer to judge any cooking contest that comes along. After you get a couple under your belt, so to speak, invitations will start to come in. Good judges are at a premium. Just remember to mind your manners and follow the instructions given you. You might also be interested in my article Competition Barbecue and Here Comes the Judge. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Charles asks about chili powder:

I keep seeing chili powders that are marked: California, Sweet New Mexico, light and dark. Is there a big difference between them or is it in the preparation?

Hi Charles: Chili powders can vary greatly in taste, color, the heat they contain and texture. Each pepper produces a different powder. The foundation powder is from the Ancho. All your chili blends start with the Ancho. Peppers of the same variety can vary from crop to crop. Growing conditions also affect the end product. You just have to experiment and find the powder that best suits your needs. You might find Eleanor Bradshaw's article How to Make Your Own Chili Powder useful. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Cathie writes:

My son-in-law has been cooking a brisket, overnight, in the oven. His oven setting is set at 180 degrees. My grilling cookbook says low is 225-250. Is 180 degrees a safe temperature?

Hi Cathie: Son-in-law may be on the edge here. The critical thing is to get the temperature of the brisket up to 140 degrees in two hours or less. The slow cookers (crock pots) run from 185 to 200 degrees on the low setting. I think it would be a good idea to start the brisket at about 300 degrees for the first hour, and then it would be fine to cut back to 180. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Megann writes:

Hello Dr. John. I make a very tasty White Chili. It has ground pork, white (cannelli) beans, poblano (used for relleno) and jalapeño chilis. It is very mild but flavorful. How can I turn up the heat for a contest without losing the flavor?

Hey Megann: Oh gosh, white chili. We don't want to use cayenne and get pink chili. First thing that comes to mind is white pepper. It has an "up front bite"; that is, you taste it on the tip of your tongue immediately. It doesn't get real hot, but you know it's there.

Sure fire heat is in the habanero. If you can find fresh in the yellow stage, it will go with your color scheme. Or you can find habanero powder. This stuff is HOT! Start with just a tad and work up to where you want it. If you use fresh, use gloves and for heaven's sake, don't wipe your eyes. Hope this helps. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

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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