All About Meat
( Originally Published 1917 )
Meat proper includes the flesh (1) of cattle, which we call beef, and of calves, which we call veal; (2) of swine, called pork; and (3) of sheep and of lambs, called mutton and lamb respectively.
All of these meats, particularly beef and mutton, are in use at all seasons, though the two last named are in finest condition in the winter, while lamb and veal belong more especially to the spring and early summer months.
We use as meat not only the actual muscular flesh, but also' the fat, sinews, heart, stomach, and liver, the tongue and brains.
Beef is the most nourishing meat. Next in order comes mutton.
Meat that is dried or smoked is more nutritious than fresh meat, but corning draws out. the juices.
We have already pointed out that some kinds of meat are much more digestible than others. Pork, on the one hand, being fat, is indigestible, and the same is true of the tough, muscular tissue of such parts of, an animal as the kidneys and the heart, while the finer-fibred flesh, such as tender beef or mutton, the breast of chicken and some varieties of game, will always be found more digestible. Naturally, those muscles which are used the most become the hardest, or toughest,—but these are also the richest and juiciest as well.
Meat should never be allowed to remain long in the paper in which it is wrapped, nor should it be placed in water, as much of the juice is lost in this way: it is better to wipe it with a clean, damp cloth if one wishes to cleanse it.
It is important to remember in buying that it is not always economy to purchase the cheapest cuts,—one must take into consideration how much of the piece selected is edible meat, and how much bone or fat. The most economy lies in getting the best nourishment, bearing in mind that the less tender parts are the more nutritious. Of course, in order that the meat be wholesome the animal must be healthy,—aud if the animal be well nourished, then the meat coming from it will be nutritious. -
Tender cuts are best for broiling and roasting. The cheap cuts should be selected for a stew, and should contain some of both fat and bone, for the sake of the better flavor and body that will result. Careful cooking will bring out some of the nitrogenous elements from the bones, and the rich fat is by no means- to be despised.
In winter one appreciates the heat-giving qualities of fat, and- it should at no season be thrown away. This is especially true of beef fat: When used in bread or pastry as shortening, or for frying, etc., or even for greasing pans, fat should be clarified. This is the simplest of processes, and consists of merely heating it with water, so that it is not burnt; the greasy odor passing off as the water evaporates; or with thin slices of raw potato, which absorb the organic matter in its passage from the fat.
It is of prime importance to know how every variety and every part of meat should be cooked so as to prepare it to the greatest ad-vantage, and so as to retain as much as possible of the juice which is its life.
Dry, intense heat causes the meat fibre to contract and become hardened; whereas a "slow fire " softens it. And while, by .being heated, the albumen will only become the harder, we find -that it will dissolve in cold water. Consequently, those meats that are of tough fibre should be cooked in water without an extremely hot fire.
The process of cooking meat in water gives us: (a) the boiled meat, which retains all its juices; (b) a stew, in which .the juices are mingled with the water, so that we eat this with the meat, or, (3) a soup or broth, in which the juice is all extracted and is used alone.