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

December 3, 2008

Ho ho ho! And what do you want for Christmas boys and girls? The good Doctor just wants peace and happiness for all his patients here at Texas Cooking. Of course a new Corvette would be nice too.

Time to go to work.

The doctor had a young man write in asking about "kippering" venison. I'm sorry, but the young man's name was lost in the latest computer crash. I thought it was a good question, so here is my opinion on the subject:

Kippering was first used to describe the smoke-drying process of preserving herring. The process is still being used today after thousands of years. As with any developing species, we have to try new things. Someone decided that red meat could be "kippered". Now, kippering is the same as making jerky, except smoke is used and some moisture is left in the meat.

Venison is a very lean meat; therefore, it is tough unless cooked properly. Cooking venison properly usually means cooking it a lot longer than you would cook beef.

My version of kippered venison is to take the scraps from the butchering process and give them a good seasoning with jerky-type seasoning and age them in the icebox overnight, sealed tight. Next the venison goes into a tight wrap of foil and is put in a 300°F oven until I can smell it. Then the oven is cut down to 250°F, and the venison steamed another two hours. After that time the packs are opened and any juice poured off, and the venison is run under the broiler until it just begins to crisp on the edges. This process produces a delicious snack food.

If we want to get more technical about kippering, we would put it on a slow grill with smoke for a couple of hours and then wrap it in foil and steam it a couple of hours. Then unwrap it and dry it a bit in the covered grill.

With either process, the meat will contain more moisture than regular jerky. It's not a good idea to carry it around in your pocket of purse for any length of time. It should be stored under refrigeration.

That ran rather long, but some complaints can't be cured with "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning".

A question I get a lot in cooking conversations is "How do you take care of the non-stick pans?"

The answer to that is, first of all, you buy a good brand of pot or pan. The el cheapo models won't last more than a week or so if you're really using them. The next thing you do is read the instructions you get with the pan. They all need washing in hot, soapy water before you use them.

If you are going to use some non-stick spray to make the pan really non-stick, put the spray on while the pan is cold. Don't spray the stuff in a hot pan.

The most important thing is to keep any metal utensil out of the pan. Use a wooden tool or one that is plastic and intended for use on hot surfaces (your rubber spatula will melt in contact with a hot pan surface) or get a non-stick coated tool. The next most important thing is to let your non-stick cool slowly. Never run cold water into a hot pan. When washing your non-stick, use only plastic scrubbers or brushes. No steel wool or steel scrubbers, please.

I like my cast iron. It will get as non-stick as the Teflon, but the pans are heavy. I am past weight lifting when not necessary.

While I'm off on a tangent, let's talk a little about the care and feeding of knives. A dull knife is just about useless for anything other than prying the lid off the jelly jar. A sharp knife is a tool. I cringe when I see someone cutting some food in or on a glass or ceramic plate or bowl. That destroys the edge on the knife. Use the cutting board; that is what they are designed for.

I can't really describe the process of sharpening a knife here. It requires hands-on learning. The sharpening goes through several stages progressing from a coarse stone to a finer one and then to the polishing. No matter how sharp the edge, under a microscope it will look like a saw blade. That is where the seldom-used sharpening steel comes in. It is simply a rod of hard steel with a handle that you use to align the teeth on the edge of your knife. Again it is something you have to be shown, I really can't tell you. Anyway, when you get an edge sharp you can maintain the sharpness for a long time with the steel.

Don't get an electric knife sharpener for your kitchen. You will grind your knives to nothing before the novelty of the machine goes away and you stow it in the bottom of the cabinet with the salad shooter.

We can't conclude the page without a recipe. Here is one that really goes well on a cold fall evening.

Raven's Idea of Hopping John

  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 can Trappey Black-eyed peas with bacon flavor
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 small serrano pepper, minced
  • 1 small tomato diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Put the rice on to cook according to package directions. Sauté the onion and peppers in about two tablespoons of bacon grease or butter or shortening.

Add the can of black-eyed peas with about half the juice drained off. Heat through to a good simmer.

Add the cooked rice and mix well. Add the tomato and heat to good simmer again. Adjust salt and pepper.

Very good with cornbread or corn tortillas. Serves 2 good appetites. If you want to make a full meal deal out of this, add about a cup of cubed, cooked ham.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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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