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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/473

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411
GENERAL REMARKS ON COOKING MEAT

covered, with stock. The meat does not come in contact with the liquid, but becomes thoroughly flavoured with the vegetables, and by long slow cooking in the steam is rendered tender and digestible, it is then placed in a quick oven and browned and crisped before serving.

Frying.—From the appended table it will be seen that all fats and oils do not boil at the same temperature. In ordinary houses thermometers for testing the heat for cooking are not available, but the table given is instructive without their aid—at least it should make clear the reason why it is so much more difficult to fry in a small quantity of butter than in a corresponding amount of fat or oil.

BOILING POINT OF FAT AND OILS

Butter boils at 150° F.
Lard ,, 210° ,,
Clarified Fat ,, 250° ,,
Oil ,, 390-400° ,,

Many liquids boil at a lower temperature than water (212°); thus you may, with impunity, dip your finger in boiling spirits of wine; you would take it very quickly from boiling brandy; still more rapidly from water; whilst the effect of the most rapid immersion in boiling oil need not be mentioned. As a consequence of this, heated fluids act differently on the savoury bodies presented to them. A small ball of butter, thickly coated with egg and breadcrumbs, may be fried in hot fat or oil and retain its form, but if dropped into a stewpan of boiling water it would quickly melt, and mingle with it, because the water would not be hot enough to immediately coagulate the albumin of the egg and thus imprison the butter, and effectually exclude the water. Fat may be heated to a much higher temperature than is necessary for ordinary frying purposes. Anyone experienced can tell exactly by the appearance of the fat, and by the amount of blue smoke arising from it, when the requisite degree of heat is reached. This, of course, varies considerably; such things as rissoles and fish cakes, made principally of cooked materials, need simply browning and heating through, and consequently may be cooked in very hot fat. But such a preparation as cheese fritters or raw substances like fillets of fish must be fried in fat at lower temperature to allow the material to be fully cooked before the surface becomes too brown. The heat of the fat may be tested by frying a piece of bread; if it turns brown immediately the temperature is suitable for such things as need browning and re-heating, and for potatoes which require a high degree of heat, owing to the large proportion of water contained in them; but for raw materials the fat is sufficiently hot when bread at once hardens, and acquires a pale golden-brown colour. It should, however, be remembered that the introduction of any cold substance immediately lowers the temperature of the fat; so much so, that after a few minutes the heat under the stew-