Meat may be boiled, roasted, stewed, fried, or prepared in other ways. Tender cuts should be cooked in their own juices to preserve the flavor. The meat should at first be subjected to a high temperature to harden the albumen on the outside and thus prevent the escape of the internal juices. Then the temperature should be lowered to 180 degrees.
In roasting the object is to retain all the juice in the meat. The heat should be sharp at first, for the reason above stated, and then reduced so that the albumen in the interior may be gradually coagulated without shriveling and hardening the fibre. The flesh of young animals is better adapted for roasting than boiling, as it contains more of those principles soluble in water and which may be boiled away. Whenever it is desired to retain and increase the flavor, roasting is the better method. This applies to pork, venison, and game, and to poultry unless it be lean and old.
Meat properly boiled retains more of its nutritious properties and is more easily digested than if cooked in any other way. It loses less in weight than by either roasting or baking. The degree of extraction of juices depends on the degree of heat and the way it is applied. If broth is desired the meat should be soaked in cold water, and the heat applied gradually and kept below the boiling point. To obtain stock for soup, it must come to a boil and this be kept up for some time. But if boiled meat is the object, the joint should be plunged at once in boiling water, so as to coagulate the outer albumen, and the boiling kept up for five or six minutes. Then the temperature should be brought down to 1600 F., and the process continued till the interior is fully cooked.
In baking the temperature is more equally maintained, and there is less loss of the sapid contents of the meat than in roasting. The joint is richer in flavor and its juices more fully retained. But it is less suitable for delicate stomachs. Great care must be taken that the fat does not come into contact with the hot iron of the stove, as, if burnt, it gives unpleasant and noxious qualities.
This method is intermediate between boiling and roasting, and is much the best method of rendering the meat tender, juicy, and sapid.- Meat that would otherwise be quite indigestible may be thus utilized. It also admits of combining a number of articles, both animal and vegetable, and is often the best way to employ canned meats. Hashing is the same process applied to meat which has been previously cooked. It often fails for this reason, the meat being made tough and leathery. Very little water is needed for stewing, often the juices proving sufficient, if care be taken to prevent burning.
Broiling has much the same effect as roasting. The purpose is to keep the juice in the meat, which is held over a clear fire for a few seconds, until the albumen on one side hardens. As soon as the juice begins to rise the meat is turned and the albumen on the other side hardened. Continue to turn the meat frequently until it is cooked. Frying, a very common method, produces indigestible meat, the fat, upon which the gastric juices do not act, being thoroughly absorbed, and seriously interfering with digestion.