Roasting (meaning "to heat violently") is cooking before an open fire; it implies the action of a much greater degree of heat than that employed in any of the previously specified methods of cooking. The heat of an open fire is about 1,000°.
In the days of open fireplaces this was the general way of cooking large pieces of meat; but now it is adopted only in large establishments, or by those who can afford the additional expense of a tin kitchen, and a range constructed especially for roasting. Baking, or roasting in a very hot oven, being a cheaper and more convenient way, is more generally used. Ovens in stoves and ranges are now well ventilated; and meat when properly cooked in a very hot oven, and basted often, is nearly equal in flavor to that roasted before an open fire. The fire for roasting should be clear and bright, and of sufficient body to last, with only a slight sprinkling of coal, through the time for roasting.
The meat is placed on a spit, and hung in the jack in a tin kitchen, and made to revolve slowly before the fire by winding a spring in the jack, or by turning the spit at regular intervals. The meat should be rubbed with salt and flour, and placed on the spit, very near the fire at first, to harden the albumen; then removed a little distance to prevent the meat from burning, before the inside is cooked. Place two or three spoonfuls of dripping in the pan to use in basting the meat; baste often, and dredge two or three times with flour. When the joint is very large, place a buttered paper over it.
As the juices of meat are composed largely of water, the water will be evaporated as soon as it reaches the boiling-point, or 212°. When meat is placed in a moderate oven, the heat is not sufficient to harden the albumen on the outer surface; the watery juices evaporate, the steam escapes, and the meat becomes dry and tasteless. But when meat is exposed to the intense heat of an open fire, or a very hot oven, the albumen hardens; and if basted frequently with hot fat, the meat is completely enveloped in a varnish of hot melted fat, which assists in communicating the heat to the inside, and checks the evaporation of the juices; this prevents the escape of the steam, so that the inside of property roasted meat is really cooked in the steam of its own juices. The evapo ration of juices is proportionate to the amount of surface exposed. A small joint has a larger surface in proportion to its weight than a large joint weighing double or treble the amount; therefore the smaller the joint to be roasted, the higher the temperature to which its surface should be ex-posed, that the evaporation may be more quickly arrested. For very thin pieces of meat, which have a still larger surface in proportion to the weight, such as steaks and chops, a greater heat is required. This is accomplished by broiling, which should be done near the burning-point, the highest degree of heat employed in any form of cooking.