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Beef

Meat is the name applied to the flesh of all animals used for food. Beef is the meat of steer, ox, or cow, and is the most nutritious and largely consumed of all animal foods. Meat is chiefly composed of the albuminoids (fibrin, albumen, gelatin), fat, mineral matter, and water.

Fibrin is that substance in blood which causes it to coagulate when shed. It consists of innumerable delicate fibrils which entangle the blood corpuscles, and form with them a mass called blood clot. Fibrin is insoluble in both cold and hot water.

Albumen is a substance found in the blood and muscle. It is soluble in cold water, and is coagulated by hot water or heat. It begins to coagulate at 134° F. and becomes solid at 160° F. Here lies the necessity of cooking meat in hot water at a low temperature; of broiling meat at a high temperature, to quickly sear surface.

Gelatin in its raw state is termed collagen. It is a transparent, tasteless substance, obtained by boiling with water, muscle, skin, cartilage, bone, tendon, ligament, or membrane of animals. By this process, collagen of connective tissues is dissolved and converted into gelatin. Gelatin is insoluble in cold water, soluble in hot water, but in boiling water is decomposed, and by much boiling will not solidify on cooling. When subjected to cold water it swells, and is called hydrated gelatin. Myosin is the albuminoid of muscle, collagen of tendons, ossein of bones, and chondrin of cartilage and gristle.

Gelatin, although highly nitrogenous, does not act in the system as other nitrogenous foods, as a large quantity passes out unchanged. In combination with albumen it has a food value.

Fat is the white or yellowish oily solid substance forming the chief part of the adipose tissue. Fat is found in thick layers directly under the skin, in other parts of the body, in bone, and is intermingled throughout the flesh. Fat as food is a great heat-giver and force-producer. Suet is the name given to fat which lies about the loins and kidneys. Beef suet tried out and clarified is much used in cookery for shortening and frying.

Mineral Matter. The largest amount of mineral matter is found in bone. It is principally calcium phosphate (phosphate of lime). Sodium chloride (common salt) is found in the blood and throughout the tissues.

Water abounds in all animals, constituting a large percentage of their weight. The color of meat is due to the coloring matter (hæmoglobin) which abounds in the red corpuscles of the blood.

The distinctive flavor of meat is principally due to peptones and allied substances, and is intensified by the presence of sodium chloride and other salts.

The beef creature is divided by splitting through the backbone in two parts, each part being called a side of beef. Four hundred and fifty pounds is good market weight for a side of beef. The most expensive cuts come from that part of the creature where muscles are but little used, which makes the meat finer grained and consequently more tender, taking less time for cooking. Many of the cheapest cuts, though equally nutritious, need long, slow cooking to render them tender enough to digest easily. Tough meat which has long and coarse fibres is often found to be very juicy, on account of the greater motion of that part of the creature, which causes the juices to flow freely. Roasting and broiling, which develop so fine a flavor, can only be applied to the more expensive cut s. The liver, kidneys, and heart are of firm, close texture, and difficult of digestion. Tripe, which is the first stomach of the ox, is easy of digestion, but on account of the large amount of fat which it contains, it is undesirable for those of weak digestion.

The quality of beef depends on age of the creature and manner of feeding. The best beef is obtained from a steer of four or five years. Good beef should be firm and of fine-grained texture, bright red in color, and well mottled and coated with fat. The fat should be firm, and of a yellowish color. Suet should be dry, and crumble easily. Beef should not be eaten as soon as killed, but allowed to hang and ripen,—from two to three weeks in winter, and two weeks in summer. Meat should be removed from paper as soon as it comes from market, otherwise paper absorbs some of the juices. Meat should be kept in a cool place. In winter, beef may be bought in large quantities and cut as needed. If one chooses, a loin or rump may be bought and kept by the butcher, who sends cuts as ordered. Always wipe beef, before cooking, with a cheese cloth wrung out of cold water, but never allow it to stand in a pan of cold water, as juices will be drawn out.

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Source

The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1896).


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