Cooking Meat in Water

Cooking Meat in Water — From the COOKS.COM Culinary Archive.


  The fibrin of meat is hardened and contracted by dry, intense heat, but softened by moist, moderate, and long continued heat.  Albumin dissolves in cold water, but hardens in hot water and by dry heat.  Therefore, all meat that has a tough, hard or flabby fibrer, with much gristle, tendon, and bone, should be cooked in water, and at a moderate heat.

  We cook meat in water for three distinct purposes:

  First, to retain their nutrient value within the meat, as in boiled meat, and in some forms of baked meat.
  Second, to draw vitamins and minerals out into the water, as in soups, and meat broths.
  Third, to divide the nutritional value partially in both the meat and the surrounding broth, as in soups and stews, where the broth is consumed with the meat.


  In boiling meat we leave the meat whole that only a small surface may be exposed.  Plunge it into boiling salted water, enough to cover, and keep it there for five or ten minutes.  This hardens the albumin over the entire surface and makes a coating through which the juices cannot escape.  Then move the kettle where the water will be just below the boiling-point.  Cover tightly to keep the steam and the volatile, aromatic extractives which give flavor to the meat.  A small amount of albumin from the outer surface will be dissolved and rise as foam, which should be skimmed from the surface.  The salt coagulates this albumin, bringing it to the top.  It also raises the boiling-point of the water slightly, and by increasing its density, it aids in the prevention of the escape of juices.

  Meat cooked in this slow gentle way requires a longer time than when the water boils furiously, but it is made more tender, and has a better flavor.  It will take fifteen or twenty minutes for the heat to penetrate to the center of the meat before the cooking process begins.  Then allow twelve or fifteen minutes for each pound of meat.  Two pounds in a cubical form will require a longer time than the same weight cut thin and having a broad surface.

  As meat varies according to its age and feeding, in the tenderness of its fiber and the amount of connective tissue, gristle, and tendon, it is safer to allow at least an hour for the boiling or stewing of any kind, whatever the shape or weight; then increase the time from two to five hours.

  Regardless off the pains we take to retain the most nutrition in the meat, some portion of it escapes into the water, and therefore the water should be saved and used for a gravy, or for use in soups and stews.


  Wipe, remove the fat, and put the meat into well-salted boiling water.  Boil ten minutes.  Add to the broth one stalk celery, one carrot, one onion, and one bay leaf and two whole cloves of garlic. Skim often, and simmer at least an hour over low heat, or until tender.  One quarter of a cup of rice is sometimes boiled with the meat.  Serve with thickened gravy or parsley poured over the meat.


  To each cup of boiling water in which the meat was cooked add one tablespoon of flour moistened with a little cold water, one teaspoon vinegar or catsup, speck of pepper, and one eighth teaspoon salt.  Boil five minutes, stirring till smooth.  Add one tablespoon finely chopped parsley, or you may finely chop the vegetables from the soup and stir these into the gravy.  Add finely sliced mushrooms if desired and season to taste. If the broth has failed to develop sufficient flavor, which can sometimes happen if too much liquid is used, then add a bouillon cube or packet for additional taste or reduce broth by cooking (after removing meat) down until volume has reduced to half. Always be sure to make a reduction before adding any seasonings.


  4 lbs. corned beeff
  2 beets
  1 small cabbage
  2 small carrots
  1 small Swede turnip or Rutabaga
  6 potatoes
  1 small squash
  2 small parsnips

  Wash the meat quickly in cold water and, if very salty, soak it one half hour.  Put it in the kettle, cover with boiling water, and simmer three to five hours, or until tender.  Wash the vegetables, scrape the carrots and parsnips, and cut the cabbage into quarters; pare the turnip and squash, cut into three quarter inch slices, and pare the potatoes.  Two hours before dinner-time skim off all the fat from the liquid and add more boiling water.  Remove the meat when tender, then put in the carrots, afterward the cabbage and turnip, and one half hour before dinner add the squash, parsnips and potatoes.  Cook the beets separately.  When tender take the vegetables up carefully, drain the water from the cabbage by pressing it in a colander, slice the carrots and beets, and cover the beets with vinegar.  Put the meat in the center of a large dish, and serve the carrots, turnips, and potatoes round the edge, with the squash, cabbage, parsnips, and beets in separate dishes.


  Large pieces.  Wipe and trim; immerse in boiling water to keep juices inside.  Skim to improve appearance; add salt to improve flavor.  Cook slowly, with a slight bubbling on one side, to make fiber tender; rapid boiling washes out connective tissue.  Time depends on cubical size; a four pound cube takes more time than the same weight if long and thin.  Cook till meat leaves the bone.  For corned beef and tongue only slightly salted, use boiling water; if more than three days in the brine, use cold water and heat slowly, or soak for an hour in cold water and then put into boiling water.  For ham, soak over night in cold water, put into fresh cold water in large kettle, and cook gently till skin with peel.  Salt meat should be kept covered with water, but fresh meat and chickens may have little or much, as preferred.  When only a little is used the process is a kind of steaming.

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