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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/155

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INTRODUCTION TO COOKERY

It is not an economical way of cooking, for though quickly done it takes a great deal of fuel to make a good broiling fire. The meat loses weight more than in most ways of cooking. And it is only suited for tender, juicy meat from the best joints.

ROASTING

This is the favourite national method of cookery. The immense stone hearths on which huge logs flared up an open chimney were just adapted for this style of cookery, and the open coal fires in almost general use until the middle of the 19th century were almost as prodigal of fuel. To roast before the fire could have become a national custom only where fuel was cheap. We now roast in the oven more often than before the fire, but even so it is not an economical way of cooking, because of the much greater amount of fuel necessary to heat the oven than to boil a saucepan. The waste in roasting is also great, from a third to a quarter of the total weight of a joint is lost in the process; only a small part of the loss being recoverable in gravy or dripping. Furthermore, it is a method only suited to the tender parts of meat, and does not answer at all for sinewy and gelatinous meat which is the least expensive. Against this has to be set the fact that roast meat is agreeable to most persons' taste, and is generally considered digestible. As in broiling, the object is to harden the surface albumen and so to imprison the juices of the meat. This can only be done by making it very hot for a short time: the heat must afterwards be lessened by drawing the joint from the fire, or by cooling the oven. The larger the joint the smaller the fire, lest it should be burnt outside before it is cooked enough, but it should always be hot FIRST, and cool afterwards. In a perfectly roasted joint, the outside albumen should be thoroughly hardened, but inside it should only reach the moderate heat that just coagulates the albumen and swells and softens the fibrine; cooked more than this, the fibre becomes hard, and separates into bundles that offer an active resistance to teeth and digestive organs. It can scarcely happen to a large joint, but often does to a small one, and this is the reason why a small joint is often dry and hard. It is a sign of good meat and of good roasting to lose little in weight. Generally speaking, the loss is more before the fire than in the oven.

Count Rumford invented a double dripping-pan that cannot be too strongly recommended. The water in the under pan boils and prevents the fat in the upper pan from becoming hotter than boiling water, so that the dripping is neither wasted nor burnt, and there is no horrible odour of fat burning on the floor of the oven. These roasting pans are among the few cooking utensils that economize their own cost in a very short time.