The advantages of variety in the methods of preparing and serving are to be considered even more seriously in the cooking of the cheaper cuts than in the cooking of the more expensive ones, and yet even in this connection it is a mistake to lose sight of the fact that, though there is a great variety of dishes, the processes involved are few in number.
An experienced teacher of cooking, a woman who has made very valuable contributions to the art of cookery by showing that most of the numerous processes outlined and elaborately described in the cook books can be classified under a very few heads, says that she tries "to reduce the cooking of meat to its lowest terms and teach only three ways of cooking. The first is the application of intense heat to keep in the juices. This is suitable only for portions of clear meat where the fibers are tender. By the second method the meats are put in cold water and cooked at a low temperature. This is suitable for bone, gristle, and the toughest portions of the meat which for this purpose should be divided into small bits. The third is a combination of these two processes and consists of searing and then stewing the meat. This is suitable for halfway cuts, i. e., those that are neither tender nor very tough." The many varieties of meat dishes are usually only a matter of flavor and garnish.
In other words, of the three processes the first is the short method; it aims to keep all the juices within the meat. The second is a very long method employed for the purpose of getting all or most of the juices out. The third is a combination of the two not so long as the second and yet requiring so much time that there is danger of the meat being rendered tasteless unless certain precautions are taken, such as searing in hot fat or plunging into boiling water.
There is a wide difference between exterior and interior cuts of meat with respect to tenderness induced by cooking. When beef flank is cooked by boiling for two hours, the toughness of the fibers greatly increases during the first half hour of the cooking period, and then diminishes so that at the end of the cooking period the meat is found to be in about the same condition with respect to toughness or tenderness of the fibers as at the beginning. On the other hand, in case of the tenderloin, there is a decrease in toughness of the fibers throughout the cooking period which is particularly marked in the first few minutes of cooking, and at the end of the cooking period the meat fibers are only half as tough as before cooking.