Boiling is cooking food by moist heat, by immersing it in boiling liquid for a certain time.
Boiling is one of the simplest, most economical, most generally used methods of cooking, and when correctly done, it renders food both digestible and wholesome. In most cases the article itself does not boil, but is immersed in boiling water or stock; but the term is also applied correctly to vegetables, cereals, puddings, and in cases where evaporation is required, or the reduction of sauces, stocks, etc. Meat loses less weight by boiling and steaming than by any other process. The object in boiling meat is to retain as much as possible of the juices in the flesh, and for this end it should be put into a pan of fast boiling water. This closes up the pores on the outside of the meat, and these close and harden; a skin is formed which both prevents the escape of the nutritive juices and excludes the water. After a few minutes the purpose of the fast boiling water is effected, and the cooking must be continued at a lower temperature, namely, by simmering. By this is meant the state of heat at which little bubbles appear from time to time at the edges of the pan.
Should the liquid evaporate, sufficient boiling water or stock should be added to cover the meat - but the possibility of evaporation must be kept in view when placing the meat in the pan, and sufficient water should be supplied at first to allow for this.
The time allowed for boiling meat varies so much that it is impossible to give a definite rule. Experience will guide one according to the weight and kind of meat. Twenty minutes to the pound and twenty minutes over is the standard time for boiling, but this rule is only possible when the meat weighs three pounds or over. It is impossible to simmer meat on a fierce fire, so the heat must be properly regulated.
Salt meat should be put into cold water in order to soften it and draw out some of the salt, then brought slowly to the boil, boiled for a few minutes only, and the cooking continued as with fresh meat. If very salt or highly smoked, it should be soaked in cold water for some time before cooking. The liquor in which salt meat has been cooked should not be put in the stock pot, but it can be used for making pea, lentil, bean, or potato soup. Salt meat takes longer to cook than fresh meat, and the saltness may be much qualified by boiling vegetables with the meat.