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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/157

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115
INTRODUCTION TO COOKERY

cooked at simmering point and the tough stringy meat that has been quickly boiled. Count Rumford, writing on this subject, said:—

"Causing anything to boil violently in any culinary process is very ill-judged; for not only does it not expedite in the smallest degree the process of cooking, but it occasions a most enormous waste of fuel, and by driving away with the steam many of the more volatile and more savoury particles of the ingredients renders the victuals less good and less palatable. Five times as much heat is required to send off in steam any given quantity of water already boiling hot as would be necessary to heat the same quantity of the cold water to the boiling point."

In order to find out the right heat, we must first know which of several substances we have to deal with, and how each one of them is acted upon by heat.

The simplest thing to boil is an egg. The white is little more than albumen and water; the yolk contains albumen and water with some oil and some sulphur, but the albumen is of a rather different character.

We have seen that albumen begins to coagulate at 145°, sets into a jelly at 160°, and at a higher temperature quickly becomes tough and hard. Eggs should therefore be gently boiled. Some recommend the plan of putting the egg into a saucepan of boiling water, taking the pan off the fire and letting it cook so. Others prefer to put the egg in cold water and to take it off directly it boils.

In boiling lean meat we must deal with albumen again. Just as the white of an egg hardens by boiling, so does the albumen in a leg of mutton. Plunge it into boiling water, and on the surface an impervious crust is formed that prevents the juices of the meat from escaping. Once that is done, the boiling should cease, for the toughening of the albumen throughout the joint is as undesirable as the escape of the juices. Boiled meat intended for table should never be put into cold water: firstly, because the surface albumen is dissolved, and afterwards, when the water boils, hardens and rises as scum; also, secondly, because the salts and extractives are dissolved, leaving the meat dry and flavourless. Cold water first and fast boiling afterwards (the common way of cooking) is the worst possible way, for the meat is not only dry, but hard. If the meat is to be boiled for soup the object is to extract all the juice, the soluble albumen, and as much gelatine as may be, so that it should be cut up to multiply surfaces, put into cold water, and heated slowly to boiling point. To attain contrary ends, contrary means must be used.

The exceptions to this rule, if any, for boiling meat are in the case of sinewy and tendonous meat where gelatine is abundant. To make it soft and eatable long continued boiling is necessary. Calf's head and feet, veal tendons, cow heel, and tripe are often put into cold water.

Flour Foods, such as macaroni, rice, sago, cornflour and flour puddings should be kept all the time in boiling water, in order to burst the starch