Cooking is an art that should be learned according to the correct principles. People who are well-versed in food preparation should have no need for drugs. The flesh of animals is composed of fibers. These fibers are surrounded by connective tissue which is tough. The cooking softens and breaks down these tissues, thus rendering it easier for the digestive juices to penetrate and dissolve them. That is what proper cooking does. Poor cooking generally renders the meat indigestible.
The simpler the cooking, the more digestible will be the food. Flavors are developed in the process, but these are hidden if the meats are highly seasoned.
The various ways of cooking meat include the following:
Boiling: When meats are boiled they lose muscle sugar, flavoring extracts, organic acids, gelatin, mineral matters, and soluble albumin. That is, they lose both flavor and nourishment. Therefore the liquid in which they are cooked should be used. The proper way to boil meat is to plunge it into plain boiling water. Allow the water to boil hard for ten minutes or fifteen minutes. This will curdle the outer part of the piece of meat. Then lower the temperature of the water to about 180 degrees F. and cook until it suits the taste. If it is allowed to boil at a high temperature for a long time, it becomes tough, for the albumin will be curdled throughout.
Salts extract the water from meat. Thus none of it should be used in boiling. The meat should be cooked in plain water with no additives. No vegetables and no cereals are to be added. All meats contain some fat, and this comes into the water and acts upon the vegetables and starches, making them indigestible. Season the meat after it is cooked or better still, let everyone season it to suit their taste after serving.
Meats that are to be boiled should never be soaked, for the cold water dissolves out some of the salts and some of the nutritive substances. It is better to simply wash the meat if it does not look fresh and clean enough to appeal to the eye, which it always should be.
Stewing: If meat is to be stewed, cut it into small pieces and stew or simmer at a temperature of about 180 degrees F. until it is tender. It is to be stewed in plain water. If a meat and vegetable stew is desired, stew the vegetable in one dish, and the meat in another. When both are done, mix both together. By cooking thus a stew is made that will not “repeat” if it is properly taken. Foods should taste while being eaten, not afterward.
Broths: If a broth is desired, select lean meat. Either grind it or chop it up fine. There is no objection to soaking the meat in cold water, provided the water is used in making the broth. Use no seasoning. Let it stew or simmer at about 180 degrees F. until the strength of the meat is largely in the water. When the broth is done, set it aside to cool. Then skim off all the fat and warm it up and use. One pound of lean meat will produce a quart of quite strong broth.
Broiling: Cut the meat to desired thickness. Then placed near an intense fire, turning it occasionally, until done. But be careful not to burn the flesh. An ordinary steak should be broiled for about 10 minutes. Perhaps, the time depends on the thickness of the cut and whether it is desired rare, medium, or well done.
Beefsteak smothered in onion is a favorite dish but it is not a good way to prepare either the onions or the steak. A better way is to broil both the steak and the onions, or broil the steak, cut the onions into slices about one-half to three-fourths of an inch thick, add a little water, and bake them. Beefsteak and onions prepared in this way are both palatable and easy to digest.
Roasting: Roasting is similar to broiling, that is, cooking a piece of meat before an open fire. But in roasting, a large part of the meat is used and it, therefore, takes a longer time to be done.
Baking: In baking, place the meat in an enclosed oven. Most of the so-called roast meats are baked. The oven should be very hot for the first 10-15 minutes, about 400 degrees F. This heat will seal the outside of the meat quite well. Then reduce the heat to 260 degrees F. if it is kept at a high temperature, it will produce a tough piece of meat. The time the meat should be in the oven depends upon the size of the piece of meat and how well done it is desired. While baking some of the juices and a part of the fat escape. About every fifteen minutes, batter the meat with its own juice. And a few minutes before the meat is to be removed from the oven it may be sprinkled with a small amount of salt, and so may be done to the broiled and roasted meats before they are done.
Steaming: Steaming is an excellent way of cooking, in the sense that none of its food value will be lost. Put the meat in the steamer and allow it to remain until it is done. The cheapest and toughest cuts of meat, which are fully as good as the more expensive ones and often better flavored, can be rendered very tender by steaming. Tough birds can be treated in the same way. An excellent way to cook an old hen or an old turkey is to steam it until tender and then put it into a hot oven for a few minutes to be brownish. Some birds are so tough that they cannot be made eatable by either boiling or baking, but steaming makes them untoughened.
Smothering: This is a modification of baking. Any kind of meat may be smothered, but it is particularly fine for chickens. Take a young bird, separate it into joints, place it into a pan, and add a pint of boiling water. And if a chicken is lean, put it in a little butter, but if it is fat use no butter. Then cover the pan tightly and place it in the oven and let it be baked. A chicken that weighs two and one-half pounds when dressed will require baking for one hour and fifteen minutes. You should keep the cover on the baking pan until the chicken is done, should not raise it even once. Gravy (basically the juices that drip from cooking the meats) will be found in the pan.
Frying is an objectionable method of cooking. It is held generally, that when grease at a high temperature is forced into flesh, it becomes very indigestible. And in fact, the crust formed on the outside of the flesh cannot be digested. It is folly to prepare food so that it proves injurious to the body. However, there is a way of using a frying pan so that practically no harm is done. Grease the pan very lightly, just enough to prevent the flesh from sticking. Make the pan very hot and place the meat in it. Turn the meat frequently. Fries may be cooked in this way with good results. The same is true of steaks and chops.
· Finally, you should endeavor to avoid greasy cooking. It is an abomination that kills thousands of people annually.