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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/471

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409
GENERAL REMARKS ON COOKING MEAT

simple processes of cookery. Certainly meat cooked in a pot requires very little attention and too frequently receives none at all, as is evidence by the ragged mutton and hard-flavourless beef to which the term BOILED meat may be correctly applied. Although meat loses less weight when boiled than when roasted or baked, there is more loss of nutritive constituents, unless both the meat and the liquor in which it is cooked be consumed, for certain mineral salts, soluble substances, and a considerable quantity of gelatin, are abstracted during the process of cooking, and remain dissolved in the liquor. When the meat is intended to be eaten, it is desirable that its valuable nutritive juices should be retained, and this is effected, as in roasting and baking, by subjecting the joint for a short time to a temperature sufficiently high to rapidly coagulate the surface albumin, thus forming an impervious envelope which prevents the escape of internal juices, and most effectually excludes the water, which, by diluting these juices, would render the meat insipid. All fresh meat should be immersed in boiling water for 10 minutes, but at the end of that time the temperature must be reduced, and the surest and quicket way of effecting this to draw the pot aside and add cold water by degrees until the water in the pot ceases to boil. One pint of cold water would sufficiently reduce the contents of a large boiling pot. When it is possible to choose, the one selected should be just large enough to hold the meat which must be kept covered with water; hot water being added to replace that which boils away, in order to maintain an even temperature. The addition of such vegetables as turnip, carrot, onion and celery, is a decided improvident to the flavour of the meat, but they should never be used in sufficiently large quantities to overpower its natural flavour. Turnip must be always sparingly used, for it possesses the peculiar property of absorbing the flavour of any material it comes into contact with, and is often usefully employed for that purpose. In one respect, boiling is more economic than either roasting or baking, for when once the right point is reached a very small fire will maintain the proper temperature. Any heat in excess of this is wasted, and the benefit of slow progressive cooking is lost. Meat cooks as quickly at simmering point as if the water surrounding it were kept in a state of violent ebullition, and with far better results, for continued application of excessive heat hardens the fibres of the meat, and renders it tough and indigestible.

The time allowed for boiling meat is from 20 to 25 minutes for each lb of meat, according to the solidity or thinness of the joint, and the kind of meat; pork requires longer boiling than beef or mutton, and salted meat longer than fresh meat.

Salt Meats.—Salt beef, salt pork, pickled pork, tongues and hams should always be put into warm water, unless very highly salted, when they may be put into cold water to extract some of the salt. Smoked hams and tounges must be soaked in cold water for at least 12 hours