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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/469

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GENERAL REMARKS ON COOKING MEAT

Roasting.—In roasting, the joint must be suspended where the rays of heat from the fire may fall directly upon it. In localities where this excellent and wholesome method of cooking is largely practised, kitchens are provided with a primitive meat-screen, a three-leaved folding "hastener," lined on the inside with a bright metal which reflects the heat. Therefore, although roasting may be described as cooking by radient heat, it is a process in which reflected heat plays a secondary and by no means unimportant part. By many, roasting is condemned as an extravagant method of cooking. Undoubtedly meat loses considerably in weight when roasted, but there is no real loss; the melted fat remains as dripping; any meat juice which escapes coagulates and forms the basis of the gravy, and by the evaporation of water, to which the greater part of the loss is due, the nutritives of the meat have simply become more concentrated. The consumption of coal in roasting is not excessive when the fire is properly built up. Some 30 or 40 minutes before the fire must be ready, the front of the grate should be filled with small lumps of coal, and the back with a few lumps mixed with a considerable quantity of slightly-wetted small coal. As the front of the fire burns away, the embers from the back can be brought forward, and small coal or cinders put in their place, thus keeping the front of the fire clear and bright. Immediately the fire is made up the "hastener," or meat-screen, should be drawn around it, so that its surface may become thoroughly hot before the meat is put down to roast. When the fire is clear and bright the joint should be placed quite close to it for 10 or 15 minutes; and as soon as it is put down it should be well basted with hot dripping, and this greatly assists in forming an impervious surface through which the juices of the meat cannot escape. The joint must be frequently basted during the first half-hour, and afterwards every 10 or 15 minutes. When properly roasted and sufficiently basted, the joint ought to be nicely browned without the aid of flour. A little salt and pepper is sometimes sprinkled on the joint before serving, but it is not necessary. It was considered an improvement to the gravy when the old custom obtained of pouring a little over the joint.

It is impossible to fix the exact time required for roasting meat, because so much depends upon the form and thickness of the joint, and its age and condition. The general rule is to allow 15 minutes for each pound of beef and mutton, and 15 minutes over; and 20 minutes for each pound of veal and pork, and 20 minutes over. Meat of recently killed beasts requires longer cooking than meat which has hung for some time; in warm weather joints require rather less time for roasting than in cold. A square solid piece of beef will not cook as quickly as a shoulder of mutton of equal weight; and rolled and stuffed meat must be allowed a longer time than if the joints were not prepared in this manner.

White Meats, and the Meat of Young Animals, require to be very well