Baking is one of the cheapest and most convenient ways of dressing a dinner in small families; and, I may say, that the oven is often the only kitchen a poor man has, if he wishes to enjoy a joint of meat.
I do not mean to deny the superior excellence of roasting to baking; but some joints, when baked, so nearly approach to the same when roasted, that I have known them to be carried to the table, and eaten as such with great satisfaction.
Legs and loins of pork, legs of mutton, fillets of veal, and many other joints, will bake to great advantage, if the meat be good; I mean well-fed, rather inclined to be fat: if the meat be poor, no baker can give satisfaction.
When baking a poor joint of meat, before it has been half baked I have seen it start from the bone, and shrivel up scarcely to be believed.
Besides those joints above mentioned, I shall enumerate a few baked dishes which I can particularly recommend.
A pig, when sent to the baker prepared for baking, should have its ears and tail covered with buttered paper properly fastened on, and a bit of butter tied up in a piece of linen to baste the back with, otherwise it will be apt to blister: with a proper share of attention from the baker, 1 consider this way equal to a roasted one.
A buttock of beef the following way is particularly fine. After it has been in salt about a week, to be well washed, and put into a brown earthen pan with a pint of water; cover the pan tight with two or three thicknesses of cap or foolscap paper: never cover anything that is to be baked with brown paper, the pitch and tar that is in brown paper will give the meat a smoky, bad taste: give it four or rive hours in a moderately heated oven.
A ham (if not too old) put in soak for an hour, taken out and wiped, a crust made sufficient to cover it all over, and baked in a moderately heated oven, cuts fuller of gravy, and of a finer flavor, than a boiled one. I have been in the habit of baking small cod-fish, haddock, and mackerel, with a dust of flour, and some bits of butter put on them; eels, when large and stuffed; herrings and sprats, in a brown pan, with vinegar and a little spice, and tied over with paper. A hare, prepared the same as for roasting, with a few pieces of butter, and a little drop of milk put into the dish, and basted several times, will he found nearly equal to roasting; or cut it up, season it properly, put it into a jar or pan, and cover it over and bake it in a moderate oven for about three hours. In the same manner, I have been in the habit of baking legs and shins of beef, ox cheeks, etc. prepared with a seasoning of onions, turnips, etc.:they will take about four hours: let them stand till cold, to skim off the fat; then warm it up all together, or part, as you may want it.
All these I have been in the habit of baking for the first families.
The time each of the above articles should take depends much upon the state of the oven, and I do consider the baker a sufficient judge; if they are sent to him in time, he must he very neglectful if they are not ready at the time they are ordered.