Mrs. Beeton’s Poultry & Game – Cooking Poultry; Baking and Boiling

Baking is a very similar process to roasting: the two often do duty for one another.  As in all other methods of cookery, the surrounding air may be several degrees hotter than boiling water, but the food is no appreciably hotter until it has lost water by evaporation, after which it may readily burn.  The hot air of the oven is greedy of water, and evaporation is great, so that ordinary baking (i.e. just shutting the food into a hot-air chamber) is not suited for anything that needs moist heat.

To test the heat of an oven special thermometers are made.  For poultry and game the temperature should be about 300º Fahr.  The heat may be tested with flour, which takes every shade, from coffee colour to black, when sprinkled on the floor of the oven.   Experienced cooks test very accurately by means of the hand.

The hot air of an oven sometimes imparts disagreeable flavours to the things cooked;  but this can be avoided by keeping the over scrupulously clean and having it well ventilated.

Should the oven be very brisk, it will be advisable to cover the bird with a piece of white paper, to prevent the flesh from being scorched outside  before the heat can penetrate into the inside.  This paper should be removed ½ an hour before the time of serving dinner, so that the flesh may take a good colour.

Boiling is generally thought to be the easiest method of cooking.  Certainly nothing could be less troublesome than the simple process of boiling, and yet meat tough and flavourless, or boiled to rags, is the rule rather than the exception.  Only sufficient water just to cover the meat should be used and saucepan must not be larger than is necessary just to hold the bird, etc.  Success depends entirely upon the liquid in which the food is immersed, or partially immersed, being kept at a suitable temperature.

The temperature of boiling water at sea-level is 212º F. and 100ºC.

Whether the water boils gently or is in a state of violent ebullition the temperature is the same, and anything immersed in that water will cook at an equal rate, although there will be a wide difference between the tender juicy flesh cooked at simmering-point and the tough stringy meat that has been quickly boiled, and which will be overdone outside and underdone inside.

Poultry and game should be put into warm water, and be simmered very slowly.  The skimming must not be neglected, or the flesh will lose its whiteness.  Cold water first and fast boiling afterwards (the common way of cooking) is the worst possible way.  If the meat is to be boiled for soup the object is to extract all the juice, the soluble albumen, and as much gelatine as may be, sot that it should be cut up to multiply surfaces, put into cold water and heated slowly to boiling point.  To attain contrary ends contrary means must, of course, be applied.

For boiling poultry or game, the softer the water is the better.  When spring water is boiled the chalk which gives to it the quality of hardness is precipitated.  This chalk stains the flesh, and communicates to ti an unpleasant earth taste. When nothing but hard water can be procurred it may be softened by boiling it before it is used for culinary purposes.

The fire must be watched carefully during the operation of boiling, so that its heat may be properly regulated.

The time allowed for boiling must be regulated according to the size and quality of the bird.  As a general rule, a ¼ of an hour of 20 minutes, reckoning from the moment when the boiling commences, may be allowed for every lb.

(Source) – Mrs. Beeton’s Poultry & Game; Including Sauces, Stuffings, Trussing and CarvingOver 300 Recipes, Fully Illustrated, Ward, Lock & Co., Limited, London and Melbourne – 1926

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