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July 2, 2008

Here we are in July already. It has been so hot and dry here in the hills that rocks are crawling around looking for shade and moisture.

July is traditional picnic time. Everyone loves a picnic, especially the little ant critters and various flying insects. They are just part of nature’s scheme so enjoy them, too.

One thing to remember at picnic time is food that is supposed to be cold should be kept cold, and food that is supposed to be hot should be kept hot. The guideline for cold foods is under 40 degrees, and for hot foods over 140 degrees. You know there’s a place in there for in between, so just use your good judgment. If in doubt, throw it out.

Let’s see what deep, dark problems we can solve this month.

Clemetta asks:

Dr. John, when I barbeque my brisket it comes out stringy. What am I doing wrong?

Hey Clemetta: As best I can tell from this distance, you are slicing the brisket wrong. It needs to be cut across the grain. Brisket is muscle tissue. The muscle is formed of long strands like broom straws in a broom. If you cut lengthwise of the strands, you will get long strings of meat. You cut it across the strands, you will get short strands which are not stringy.

It is difficult to tell you without a picture, but most times the fibers of the brisket run from the thick end to the thin end. Imagine a line from top and bottom and cut across it.

I think this will solve your problem. If not holler back and we will work on it some more. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

From Forest

Hello Dr. John. It's been awhile since I asked you for your expert advice, but I have been talked into smoking 40 pounds of Boston butt for our yearly Southern Indiana Traumatic Brain Injury Foundation Picnic. (I am a survivor.) This picnic is scheduled for the 28th of June. I need to know, should I make my own BBQ Rub and invest $30 to $50 in it, or is there another way to sweeten up the pork for this? Is it good enough just to use sea salt and chili powder and pepper for a good taste, or do you have a recipe in mind that isn't going to break me? I would really like to impress these folks!!!

I appreciate your advice because you've never let me down before and it's always turned out GREAT!!! I already got the oak, cherry and hickory wood cut and ready. The rest is in the rub and taste. Any other tips would be helpful, too. Thank you for your time, John.

Greetings, Forest: It would probably be least expensive to make your own rub. The basic Texas rub is:

  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup mild paprika
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
Now to this size batch add:
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or less) cayenne
This will get you in the game. Of course, for 40 pounds of pork, you’ll need several batches.

For a mop, dice up a big onion and three or four lemons, skins and all and put them in a big pot and add about a quart of water and a quarter cup white vinegar. Bring it to a simmer and let it simmer 15 or 20 minutes. Put the rub on the meat the night before you are going to cook it. Put it in a plastic bag (or bags) or wrap it tight and keep it in the icebox. You take it out of the icebox about three hours before you start cooking. Let it set on the counter or somewhere where it don't get too warm.

About every 30 minutes during the cooking process, dab some of the mop all over the meat. Don't wipe it on and wipe off your rub, daub gently. That should put it in the ballpark.

You can keep any extra rub or spices in the freezer tightly sealed and they will last a long time. If you can find a place to buy your spice in bulk you can save a ton of money, but this rub recipe should not set you back too bad. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Paul has a barbecue problem:

I have a small New Braunfels Barbeque Grill & Smoker. I have tried twice to do a ham and a brisket. I used apple for the ham (I found out that it was still a little green). I also used Ohio Oak and some Hickory that I brought at Wal-Mart in bags. When I tried the brisket (as well as the ham), I got a lot of what I would call creosote buildup in the cooking compartment. I used a paprika base rub and a vinegar base mop. When it was done, it tasted terrible. I was trying to keep the temp to about 200 degrees. The same thing with the ham. What am I doing wrong?

Hi Paul: Too much smoke, not enough temperature. About an hour of good smoke from any of the woods is enough. After that you need to open the draft so the fuel gets enough oxygen to burn without smoking. If the temperature gets too high with the damper open, you may have to cut down on the amount of fuel. I'd raise the temperature to 275-300 degrees.

Give this a try. I think it will help. 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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