Here we are at the end of 2000. Sure had a good year at Texas Cooking. I really enjoy getting questions from our readers. I hope 2001 will bring just as many or more requests.

The Doctor wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

Our first question comes from Betty:

Do you have a recipe for the brine that you soak the fish in prior to smoking? I have lost my recipe and can't remember all the ingredients. I just know it contained a lot of salt . I have a recipe for a rub, but this was a liquid brine.

Betty Williams

The brine solution would be used when smoking mullet to preserve them. Is this what you are looking for? Brine is simply a very strong solution of salt and water. The usual instructions are to dissolve all the salt that the water will absorb. I have not heard of seasoning the brine. I think you could put some pickling spice in the brine and get a good flavor in the end product. When smoking fresh mullet, just treat them like any other fish. You can filet the fish and leave the skin and scales on and smoke them skin side down. Makes a nice presentation.
Thanks for writing
Dr. John.

Dear Dr. John,

I found your name on the internet for the design of the Oklahoma Bar B Q. It looks like you not only know how to build one but are a chef as well. Any information on your cooking and how to make a unit would be greatly appreciated.

Yours truly,
Steven Martin
Azilda, Ontario

You can find the Oklahoma Joe smoker dealer at

You can get a metal fabricator to build you one if you want to go that way. You should see what it would cost to get a real Oklahoma Joe shipped to you and then get a bid from a fabricator for building one.

With the authentic unit you will know you are getting good materials and welding. There is a lot of stress in the unit going through the heating and cooling cycles.

I would suggest that whichever direction you go, you buy/build one a size larger than you think you need. It's like buying shoes for a kid, the needs will grow. Thanks for writing
Dr. John.

Doctor John,
I live in Dayton, OH and have been having trouble finding wood chips for my new smoker. Do you know of any websites that I can direct order from with a wide variety?


Brett: Look up They have the most popular varieties of chips at a reasonable price. It would be interesting to cultivate a friend in the tree trimming business. He could put aside some interesting trimmings for you to experiment with. Just stay away from pine, juniper and other oily woods.

Keep 'em smoking
Dr John.

Dr John:
I read somewhere that you can smoke a turkey on a gas grill. Unfortunately I can't remember what magazine the article was printed. Do you know how to do this? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

The gas grills run a little too hot for really good smoking but they can be used. To get the smoke you will need some wood chips. I recommend oak for flavoring but you can probably find some other varieties locally. (See above letter for Internet address of chip supplier)

The turkey would need a lot of basting to keep it moist. Look up my earlier articles on barbecuing in the Texas Cooking archives. Good Luck
Dr John

Dear John,
just what is Tri-tip,(which cut of the beef) or as we call it in California, Santa Maria bar-b-cued Tri tip? Why has it not caught on in other areas, Sure is good when served with Poquito beans.

John Wilson, Fresno Ca.


Tri-tip is off the big end of the sirloin. It contains both top and bottom of the loin.

On the West Coast, the tri-tip is broiled rather than being "barbecued". It is cooked rare over a very hot bed of coals. The preferred seasoning is a mixture of salt, black pepper and garlic powder.

The tri-tip would tend to get tough if it is slow cooked with the traditional barbecue method.

The West Coast version of tri-tip has not caught on here in Texas because the quick cooking time doesn't leave any time for drinking a few beers to work up an appetite. Might be the case in other areas too. Thanks for writing
Dr John.

Dr John:

How do you get the gamey taste out of venison?

Hunter's Wife

Dear Hunter's Wife:

The best way to get the gamey taste out is to not let it get in in the first place. The care the game gets immediately after it is deceased determines the quality of the meat. The first thing is to bleed the carcass properly. The big veins in the neck are cut and the body elevated so the head is the lowest point. Next the innards should be removed as soon as possible. When cleaning the carcass much attention must be paid to not puncturing any of the internal organs, especially the stomach and bladder. The body cavity should be wiped out and if the weather is cool the cavity should be propped open to allow cool air to circulate and cool everything. If the weather is warm, a bad of ice should be inserted into the cavity to cool things down. Any meat damaged by bullet of arrow should be cut away and disposed of as soon as possible.

In most popular hunting areas there are game processing businesses that will do the work required to get meat in good condition up to and including cutting and wrapping it for the freezer. The most important thing is to get the carcass tended to as soon as possible.

If you have meat that is gamey, you can soak it in cool salt water overnight. This will remove a lot of the gamey taste and blood that might remain. A good, stout marinade should render the meat fit for the table.

Thanks for writing
Dr. John