This section is from the book "Elements Of The Theory And Practice Of Cookery", by Mary E. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Elements Of The Theory And Practice Of Cookery; A Textbook Of Domestic Science For Use In Schools.
We have seen that tender meat is cooked chiefly to improve its color and flavor, not to make it more digestible; but tough meat requires first of all that its connective tissue be softened to enable the digestive juices to reach the albuminous matter within. (What substance in plant foods must be softened by cooking in order that the starch may be reached?) By stewing, tough meat may be softened with the least possible sacrifice of juiciness and flavor.
Neck or shoulder of lamb, 1 1/2 lb.
Potatoes, 4, medium-sized, quartered and parboiled.1
Onion, 1, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, sliced.
Rice, 2 tb.
Tomato, strained, 1 c.
or Tomato ketchup, 1 tb. Salt and pepper.
Brown the onion in a little of the fat in a saucepan; put with it the meat cut roughly into cube-shaped pieces about one and one-half inches thick, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Cover them with boiling water, heat this to the boiling-point again, then let it simmer directly over the heat for two hours; or cook it over hot water for three hours, or until the meat is tender. After 1 Boiled by themselves for five minutes. Why is this done ?
one hour of simmering add the rice; half an hour before dishing the stew, add the potatoes; when they are done remove the bones and pieces of fat, stir in the tomato or ketchup, add salt and pepper, if needed, and serve.
How does stewing differ from boiling? from soup-making? Why not leave the meat whole? Why not cut it as small as for soup?
In a good stew the meat and vegetables are tender, the broth thick and savory. Onion, ketchup, minced parsley, tomato, Worcestershire sauce, or other vegetables and condiments may be used to give flavor. Lamb or mutton stew may be thickened with rice; in beef stew flour is commonly used. Stew may be served in a platter within a border of boiled or steamed rice.
For a brown stew, the meat and sometimes the vegetables are browned in hot fat before being simmered. A brown stew without vegetables is a fricassee (French fricasser, to fry).
Start a brown stew in cold water. Why?
Sift together two cupfuls of flour, two teaspoonfuls of baking-powder, and one teaspoonful of salt. Stir in enough milk or water to make a stiff drop-batter. When the stew is cooked, set it where it will boil. Drop in the dumpling mixture by tablespoonfuls, cover closely, and boil the broth steadily without lifting the cover, for twelve minutes. Boiling the meat for a short time after it is tender will not harden it.
How do dumplings differ from biscuit? Why is no shortening used in dumplings?
Stew meat should be selected from a cheap cut, as higher-priced meat is better cooked in other ways; it should contain bone enough to make the broth gelatinous and well-flavored, also fat, since lean that lies next to fat is less watery than an all-lean piece. What cuts of beef, of lamb or mutton, and of veal, possess these points?1 (See table on pp. 186 to 193.) Part of the melted fat may be skimmed off before thickening the stew; the flour or rice will absorb the rest.
Braising is steaming meat in its own juices - a method suitable for solid pieces of meat not tender enough for roasting, but of better quality than those utilized in soups and stews. (For cuts of meat suitable for braising, see table.) The retention of steam under a cover, together with basting with the broth, keeps the meat moist enough to permit the juices to flow, while the oven heat is intense enough to develop a rich flavor in both meat and broth.
One flank steak, or one pound of top-round steak one-half inch thick.
Suet, 2 or 3 small slices. Carrot, cubed, 1/4 c.
Onion, 1 small one, sliced. Boiling water or stock, 1 c.
Stuffing made from: -
Celery cut fine, 2 tb. Salt, 1/2 t. Paprika, 1/8 t. Onion juice, 1/2 t.
1 Top round of beef may be larded, browned, and stewed very slowly for four or five hours. Cooked in this way with vegetables it is called Beef a la Mode.
Trim the edges of the steak, spread over it the stuffing, roll and tie it, and lay it on the onion and carrot in a pan, with the suet on top. Pour the water or stock into the pan; cook closely covered until tender (about 1 hour or more), in a hot oven; then uncover, and cook until browned. Serve with Brown Gravy made from the drippings in the pan.
The steak may be larded instead of covered with suet. Insert with a larding-needle two rows of salt-pork strips (lardoons) two inches long and one-fourth of an inch thick.