In choosing meat, never buy that in which the fat is very yellow; it shows that the animal was diseased. Thd fat should be white, and the lean of beef and mutton, a clear bright red color. Veal should look white and be fat. That meat is most juicy and tender which has fine streaks of fat intermingled with the lean. It is always cheaper to buy a large piece of meat, and have the butcher cut steaks from that for you, than to buy a roast and steak on two successive days. But of course it is only in winter that meat should be bought by the quantity. An economical piece of beef is the back part of the rump. It is a long piece, without much fat or bone, and weighs about ten pounds. Have the thickest end cut into steaks, and cut off the thin end with the bone, for soup. Roast what is left.
In winter, keep meat as long as possible before cooking; it makes it more tender. Keep it in a cold place, but do not let it freeze, if it can be helped, for it partly destroys the flavor. If frozen, it must be thoroughly thawed before cooking. Do this by soaking it in cold water for two or three hours before using. In summer, keep meat on ice, and do not buy much at a time. Meat which has been cooked and set in the refrigerator will often gather moisture. If so it should be set in the oven for a few minutes, even if it is to be served cold. If you have no refrigerator, set the meat on the cellar floor, covered tight to prevent flies from getting at it.
N. B. Always have the butcher send home any bones and trimmings belonging to the meat you purchased. These will often weigh as much as one pound, and are excellent to use for stock for soup.
Roasting before an open fire is out of date in most families. The term is applied now to cooking in an oven.
In roasting meat the oven should be of a moderate heat at first, so that it will be cooked on the inside; increasd the heat afterwards. Wash the meat, unless freshly cut, put it in a dripping-pan, and pour one cupful of boiling water over the top. This will cook the surface, and keep the juices in. Dredge the top of the meat with flour, and set in the oven. Do not pepper and salt it till half-done, but baste it often (i. e. wet the top by pouring over it the juice from the pan or a little water and melted butter), while it is cooking. Dredge it again with flour, after basting it the first time after you have seasoned it.
Meat that is to be rare should have the oven hot at first. Small pieces also require to be cooked in a hotter oven than large ones, or they will be dried up.
All meat should be boiled very slowly, this will make it tender; if boiled fast even a tender piece will become hard and tough. Keep the pot covered, and as the water boils down fill up gradually from the tea-kettle which should be kept boiling in readiness. The meat should boil contin-uously till done. If the piece is a very tough one, about one tablespoonful of vinegar added to the water will make it tender, and will not affect the taste.