Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/532

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sary. Here we have to contend, not with excessive surface in proportion to bulk—as in the grilling of chops and steaks and the roasting of small joints—but with the contrary—viz., excessive bulk in proportion to surface. If a baron of beef were to be treated according to my prescription for a steak, or for a single wing-rib, or other joint of three to five pounds' weight, it would be charred on its surface long before the heat could reach its center.

A considerable time is here inevitably demanded. Of course, the higher the initial outside temperature, the more rapidly the heat will penetrate; but we can not apply this law to a lump of meat, as we may to a mass of iron. We may go on heating the outside of the iron to redness, but not so the meat. So long as the surface of the meat remains moist, we can not raise it to a higher temperature than the boiling-point of the liquid that moistens it. Above this, charring commences. A little of such charring, such as occurs to the steak or small joint during the short period of its exposure to the great heat, does no harm; it simply "browns" the surface; but if this were continued during the roasting of a large joint, a crust of positively black charcoal would be formed, with ruinous waste and general detriment.

As Rumford proved long ago, liquids are very bad conductors, and when their circulation is prevented by confinement between fibers, as in the meat, the rate at which heat will travel through the humid mass is very slow indeed. As few of my readers are likely to fully estimate the magnitude of this difficulty, I will state a fact that came under my own observation, and at the time surprised me.

About five-and-twenty years ago I was visiting a friend at Warwick during the "mop" or "statute fair"—the annual slave-market of the county. In accordance with the old custom, an ox was roasted whole in the open public market-place. The spitting of the carcass and starting the cookery was a disgusting sight. We are accustomed to see the neatly-cut joints ordinarily brought to the kitchen; but the handling and impaling of the whole body of a huge beast by half a dozen rough men, while its stiffened limbs were stretching out from its trunk, presented the carnivorous character of our ordinary feeding very grossly indeed.

Nevertheless I watched the process, and dined on some of its result. The fire was lighted before midnight, the rotation of the beast on the horizontal spit before it began shortly after, and continued until the following midday, all this time being necessary for the raising of the inner parts of the flesh to the cooking temperature of about 180° Fahr.

Compare this with the grilling of a steak, which, when well done, is done in a few minutes, or the roasting of the small joint as above within thirty minutes, and you will see that I am justified in dwelling on the great differences of the two processes, and the necessity of very varied proceeding to meet these different conditions.