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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/158

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116
HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT

granules. The mechanical action of fast bubbling water is often useful, partly in preventing grains of rice, etc., from settling to the bottom of the saucepan.

Boiled Fish.—In the case of fish, the water should be kept below bubbling point, otherwise it may crack the skin and so spoil the appearance of the fish; and, on the other hand, if the fish is put into cold water, it, like meat, has much of its goodness and flavour extracted. So a compromise has to be made here, and the best plan is to put it into water as hot as the skin will bear (which varies with each fish), and to put salt with the water, or lemon-juice, or vinegar, because albumen sooner coagulates if acid is added to it. Vinegar with a poached egg answers the same purpose. Vegetables, with few exceptions, should be put into boiling water.

STEWING

Stewing almost invariably requires a heat much below that of boiling water: 165° is about stewing point. Whatever is stewed, parts with much of its goodness to the surrounding liquor, which should not, therefore, be wasted. Less liquid is used than in boiling. It is a method particularly suitable for all gelatinous meat, such as knuckles, heads and feet, and for all tough, fibrous meat, because long-continued, moderate heat, with moisture, is the best way of bringing gelatine and tough fibre into an eatable condition. It is the cheapest method of cooking for several reasons. Little heat is required, therefore little fuel used. Nothing is wasted; whatever goes into the pot comes out. The cheapest and coarsest meat can be used; and very little attention is needed while cooking. In order that all the juices may not be extracted from the meat it is sometimes fried before stewing; this gives it a good colour, and also hardens the surface albumen and prevents the soluble matters from escaping. A stew should not bubble and boil; it should stand by the side of the stove, and should never do more than bubble occasionally and leisurely at one side of a large pan. A jar well tied down and set in a cool oven makes a capital stewing utensil, or a jar set in a saucepan and surrounded by boiling water.

One difficulty is that carrots and turnips when they are old and tough ought to be boiled, and so do not agree with a small piece of stewed meat. Cooked together, one must be spoiled. It is the best plan to boil the vegetables first, and then to use them and their liquor for the stew.

A common mistake is to put in too much liquid. The raw meat supplies some liquid by its own juices and many do not sufficiently realize that at the moderate heat of stewing there is very little waste by evaporation.

FRYING

Frying has been described as boiling in fat. It is not a correct phrase, because the fat is not boiled, and the thing fried is not always immersed