Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/390

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

beef-tea, at present merely adding, as evidence of the importance of retaining these juices in cooked meat, that the extracts of beef, mutton, and pork may be distinguished by their specific flavors. Some "Extract of Kangaroo," sent to me many years ago from Australia by the Ramornie Company, made a soup that was curiously different in flavor from the other extract similarly prepared by the same company. Epicures pronounced it very choice and "gamy." When these juices are removed from the meat, mutton, beef, pork, etc., the remaining solids are all alike, so far as the palate alone can distinguish.

Let us now apply these principles practically to the case of a leg of mutton. First, in order to seal the pores, the meat should be put into boiling water; the water should be kept boiling for five or ten minutes. A coating of firmly-coagulated albumen will thus envelop the joint. Now, instead of boiling or "simmering" the water, set the saucepan aside, where the water will retain a temperature of about 180°, or 32° below the boiling-point. Continue this about half as long again, or double the usual time given in the cookery-books for boiling a leg of mutton, and try the effect. It will be analogous to that of the egg cooked on the same principles, and appreciated accordingly.

The usual addition of salt to the water is very desirable. It has a threefold action: first, it directly acts on the superficial albumen with coagulating effect; second, it slightly raises the boiling-point of the water; and, third, by increasing the density of the water, the "exosmosis," or oozing out of the juices, is less active. These actions are slight, but all co-operate in keeping in the juices.

I should add that a leg of mutton for boiling should be fresh, and not "hung" as for roasting. The reasons for this hereafter.

 
V.—FISH.

"Please, mum, the fish would break to pieces," would be the probable reply of the unscientific cook, to whom her mistress had suggested the desirability of cooking fish in accordance with the principles expounded in my last. Many kinds of fish would thus break if the popular notions of "boiling" were carried out, and the fish suddenly immersed in water that was agitated by the act of ebullition. But this difficulty vanishes when the true theory of cookery is understood and practically applied by cooking the fish from beginning to end without ever boiling the water at all.

In the case of the leg of mutton, chosen as a previous example, the plunging in boiling water and maintenance of boiling-point for a few minutes was unobjectionable, as the most effectual means of obtaining the firm coagulation of a superficial layer of albumen; but, in the case of fragile fish, this advantage can only be obtained in a minor degree by using water just below the boiling-point, for the breaking of the fish by the agitation of the boiling water does more than merely disfigure it when served; it opens outlets to the juices, and thereby