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The Practical Home Cook-Book

The Practical Home Cook-Book

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Excerpt from The Practical Home Cook-Book: With Useful Instructions on Marketing and the Choice of Articles of Food

To Choose Beef. - Good ox beef has an open grain, and yields easily to the pressure of the finger; it is smooth and juicy, of a rich carnation-color in the lean, and the fat is of a fine cream-color; rich without being oily, firm without being hard. It is small in the bone, and full in the flesh.

Mutton. - In choosing mutton select that which is of a rich red color, close in the grain and of a silky texture, juicy and lively in appearance, and whitish in the fat, but not shiny and tallowy. The flesh should pinch tender, and rise again when dented.

Lamb. - Observe the neck vein in the fore-quarter, which should be of an azure-blue to denote quality and sweetness. The flesh should be light-colored and juicy, the fat white and rich, the bones thin and small. Lamb should be dressed while perfectly fresh, or the flavor will be destroyed. It is in season from April till August.

Venison. - Pass a knife along the bones of the haunches and shoulders; if it smells sweet, the meat is new and good; if tainted, the fleshy parts of the sides will look discolored, and the darker in proportion to its staleness. The clefts of the hoofs of young venison are close and smooth. The buck venison is in full season from May till Allhallows; the doe, from Michaelmas to December or January.

Veal. - The lean of good, well-fed veal is white, smooth, and juicy; the fat is white, firm, and abundant. The flesh of a bull-calf is firmer and of a deeper color than that of a cow-calf, and the fat is harder; they are equally good for eating, if young and well-fed. It is easy to tell whether veal be newly killed, or stale, by its general appearance, as the color changes quickly, particularly under the kidney and the flaps of the breast. The flesh of stale-killed veal feels moist and clammy, the joints flabby and pliable, and it has a faint, musty smell.

Pork. - If young and well-fed, the lean is easily broken between the fingers, and the skin indented if nipped with the nail; the fat is white and waxy, and the rind thin and clean. Stale-killed pork is easily detected by the skin looking dark on the top, and clammy between the creases of the legs and shoulders, and by its strong, tainted smell. Pork is in season from August till March.

Ham and Bacon. - Run a knife along the bone of a ham; if it come out clean, and have a savory flavor, the ham is good; if smeared and dulled, it is spoiled either by taint or is reasty. Hocks and gammons of bacon may be proved in the same way.

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