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Roasting Meat

( Originally Published 1904 )

ROASTING is the process of cooking food before a hot fire or in an oven well ventilated so that a current of air passes over and around the article which is being roasted. The term is properly applied to cooking before a fire upon a spit. But this method is possible only in large establishments; and the term is now generally applied to the cooking in a pan in a well-ventilated oven, such as is provided in all good ranges. If there is no ventilation and the pan is- covered, the process is not roasting, but baking.

The fire must be very hot and of sufficient quantity to last throughout the process without replenishing. The pan in which the meat is placed must be provided with a rack so that the meat does not rest upon the bottom of the pan, but is supported a little above it. The meat should first be properly fastened with skewers. If it is a sirloin, and there is a piece of the flank attached, cut it off and keep it for soup. If, however, it is required for use, fasten it by wrapping it around the roast. If the meat is very lean, put a little dripping in the pan. If the meat has fat upon it; this will not be necessary. The fire should be very hot when the meat is first put in the oven. The first step in the process is the melting of the fat upon the meat. Then the great heat closes the pores of the meat and hardens the outer albumen, which keeps in the juices of the meat, and causes it to roast well. The meat should be placed in the pan with the skin side down, as this exposes the lean parts of the meat to the action of the fire first. After the process has gone on long enough to close the pores of the meat, the fire is to be regulated and lessened so that the interior of the meat may be well enough cooked before the outside burns. When the outside has hardened, the interior of the meat is practically steamed in its own juices. If a slow fire is used, it will be found that the juices of the meat will be converted into steam and will evaporate, leaving the meat very dry. As the greater part of the meat is water, a poorly cooked piece of meat will shrink greatly in the cooking. This, then, may be taken as a sort of test of the kind of cooking the meat has had. The loss of juices is in a measure supplied by the process of basting. This consists of pouring back over the meat the fat and juices which collect as dripping in the pan. This basting serves also to cover the meat with a coating of fat, which aids in keeping in the juices. The meat must, of course, be turned frequently, so as to expose all parts of it to the action of the fire. The meat is. also to be dredged twice with pepper and salt. When the meat is nearly cooked, flour is to ,be added, to make with the fat and juices a brown gravy. Should there be any danger of this burning, the addition of a little water will prevent it.

Allow ten minutes to the pound if it is to be rare, and fifteen if well done. If the roast is thin such as ribs, it will require a less time than a compact rump roast, and a large rump roast will take a relatively longer time than will a small one.

In a rib-roast the ribs and backbone are re-moved, and the roast is tied or skewered into a compact round form. This will take a longer time to cook than if the bones were left in; but it cooks and carves much better.



A steady, moderate fire is required, to start with, to roast beef properly. After the meat is thoroughly warmed the oven should be made hotter.

The first thing is to sear the surface of the roast in order to keep in all the juices. To do this, you must proceed as follows:

Place the roast with the skin-part on top into your pan and pour a couple of cups of slightly salted boiling water over it. Then close the oven and leave it closed for about twenty minutes. Then baste it all over by takeing a long-handled spoon and wetting every part thoroughly with the salted water in the bottom of the pan. This should be repeated every fifteen minutes. Time for roasting is twelve minutes for each pound.

A few don'ts and rules will help the pupil to acquire the knack of doing a roast just properly.

When basting don't hold the oven door wide open. Open it only enough to allow yourself to reach in and easily " baste " it.

If one side of the roast browns more quickly than the other, turn the pan in-the oven.

If the water dries up before it is sufficiently done, add another cupful of hot water from the kettle.

When more than half done sift a little flour over the roast, leaving it iii the oven. Let this brown before renewing the basting operation, and then proceed as before.

About five minutes later rub a teaspoonful of butter over the top of the meat,. This will, if your oven is right, cause a brown froth to cover the roast.

When done place on a heated platter, and keep warm.


Scrape the sides and bottom of the meat-pan and gather the browned flour towards the centre. If there is not enough, sift a little more flour into it. Also add a little more hot water, if necessary. Then stir, until you have a thick gravy. Add salt and pepper to suit the taste.

Mutton is roasted the same` way as beef. Currant jelly generally takes the place of gravy. Lamb is roasted two minutes less to the pound than beef. Mint sauce is generally served in place of gravy. Roast veal must be cooked twice as long as lamb or beef.

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