Roasting, which is quite the favourite mode of dressing meat in the United States, and one, of consequence, most familiar to us, requires unremitting attention on the part of the cook, rather than any great exertion of skill. Large kitchens are usually fitted with a smoke-jack, by means of which several spits, if needful, can be kept turning at the same time; but in small establishments, a roaster which allows of some economy in point of fuel is more commonly used. That shown in the print is of very advantageous construction in this respect, as a joint may be cooked in it with a comparatively small fire, the heat being strongly reflected from the screen upon the meat; in consequence of this, it should never be placed very close to the grate, as the surface of the joint would then become dry and hard.
A more convenient form of roaster, with a spit placed horizontally, and turned by means of a wheel and chain, of which the movement is regulated by a spring contained in a box at the top, is of the same economical order as the one above.
For roasting without either of these, make up a fire proportioned in width and height to the joint which is to be roasted, and which it should surpass in dimensions every way, by two or three inches. Place some moderate-sized lumps of coal on the top; let it be free from smoke and ashes in front; and so compactly arranged that it will neither require to be disturbed, nor supplied with fresh fuel, for some considerable time after the meat is laid down. Spit the joint and place it very far from the fire at first; keep it constantly basted, and when it is two parts done, move it nearer to the fire that it may be properly browned; but guard carefully against it being burned. A few minutes before it is taken from the spit, sprinkle a little fine salt over it, baste it thoroughly with its own dripping, or with butter, and dredge it with flour: as soon as the froth is well risen, dish, and serve the meat. Or, to avoid the necessity of the frothing, which is often greatly objected to on account of the raw taste retained by the flour dredge the roast liberally soon after it is first laid to the fire; the flour will then form a savoury incrustation upon it, and assist to prevent the escape of its juices.
When meat or poultry is wrapped in buttered paper it must not be floured until this is removed, which should be fifteen or twenty minutes before either is served.
Bottle-jack and Niche Screen.
Improved Spring-jack and Roaster.
* The bottle-jack, without the screen, is used in many families very successfully; it is wound up like a watch, by means of a key, and turns very regularly until it has run down.
Remember always to draw back the dripping-pan when the fire has to be stirred, or when fresh coals are thrown on, that the cinders and ashes may not fall into it.
When meat is very lean, a slice of butter, or a small quantity of clarified dripping should be melted in the pan to baste it with at first; though the use of the latter should be scrupulously avoided for poultry, or any delicate meats, as the flavour it imparts is to many persons peculiarly objectionable. Let the spit be kept bright and clean, and wipe it before the meat is put on; balance the joint well upon it, that it may turn steadily, and if needful secure it with screw-skewers. A cradle spit, which is so constructed that it contains the meat in a sort of framework, instead of passing through it, may be often very advantageously used instead of an ordinary one, as the perforation of the meat by this last must always occasion some escape of the juices; and it is, moreover, particularly to be objected to in roasting joints or poultry which have been boned and filled with forcemeat The cradle spit (for which see "Turkey Boned and Forced," Chapter XII (Poultry. How To Choose Poultry).) is much better suited to these, as well as to a sucking pig, sturgeon, salmon, and other large fish; but it is not very commonly to be found in our kitchens, many of which exhibit a singular scantiness of the conveniences which facilitate the labours of the cook.
For heavy and substantial joints, a quarter of an hour is generally allowed for every pound of meat; and, with a sound fire and frequent basting, will be found sufficient when the process is conducted in the usual manner; but by the slow method, as we shall designate it, almost double the time will be required. Pork, veal, and lamb, should always be well roasted; but many eaters prefer mutton and beef rather under-dressed, though some persons have a strong objection to the sight even of any meat that is not thoroughly cooked.
Joints which are thin in proportion to their weight, require less of the fire than thick and solid ones. Ribs of beef, for example, will be sooner ready to serve than an equal weight of the rump, round or sirloin; and the neck or shoulder of mutton, or spare rib of pork, than the leg.
When to preserve the succulence of the meat is more an object than to economize fuel, beef and mutton should be laid at twice the usual distance from the fire, and allowed to remain so until they are perfectly heated through; the roasting, so managed, will of course be slow; and from three hours and a half to four hours will be necessary to cook by this method a leg of mutton of ordinary size, for which two hours would amply suffice in a common way; but the flesh will be remarkably tender, and the flow of gravy from it most abundant. It should not be drawn near the fire until within the last hour, and should then be placed only so close as to brown it properly. No kind of roast indeed should at any time be allowed to take colour too quickly; it should be heated gradually, and kept at least at a moderate distance from the fire until it is nearly done, or the outside will be dry and hard, if not burned, while the inside will be only half-cooked.