boiling chicken

The Proper Way to Boil Meat

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An easy way to cook meat was to boil it, ┬ábut it wasn’t the most flavorful. I have boiled chicken to make soup, but never beef or pork (except for hot dogs).


The method of preparing meat by boiling is not strongly advocated, for there is seldom a time when better results cannot be obtained by cooking meat at a lower temperature than at the boiling point.

When water becomes too hot to bear the hand in it with comfort, it has reached 150 degrees, or the scalding point. When there is a gentle tremor on the surface, 180 degrees or the simmering point is reached. When there is quite a commotion on the surface of the water and the bubbles breaking above it throw off steam or watery vapor, 212 degrees or the boiling point is reached. After water reaches the boiling point it becomes no hotter, no matter how violently it may boil. The excess of heat escapes in the steam. This fact is rarely understood by the average cook, and much fuel is needlessly wasted because of the mistaken idea that rapidly boiling water cooks food more quickly.

Whether the meat should be put into cold water or boiling water depends on the result that is desired. It is impossible to make a rich, tasty broth and at the same time have a juicy, well-flavored piece of boiled meat. If meat is cooked for the purpose of making soup or broth, it should be put into cold water and then brought to a boil. By this method, some of the nutritive material and much of the flavoring substance will be drawn out before the water becomes hot enough to harden them.

However, if only the meat is to be used, it should be plunged directly into boiling water in order to coagulate the surface at once, as in the application of dry heat. If it is allowed to boil for ten minutes or so and the temperature then reduced, the coating that is formed will prevent the nutritive material and the flavor from being lost to any great extent. But if the action of the boiling water is permitted to continue during the entire time of cooking, the tissues will become tough and dry.

The size of the boiling-pots should be adapted to what they are to contain. The larger the saucepan the more room it takes upon the fire, and a larger quantity of water requires a proportionate increase of fire to boil it.

Let the covers of your boiling-pots fit close, not only to prevent unnecessary evaporation of the water, but to prevent the escape of the nutritive matter, which must then remain either in the meat or in the broth.

A trivet or fish-drainer put on the bottom of the boiling-pot, raising the contents about an inch and a half from the bottom, will prevent that side of the meat which comes next the bottom from being done too much, and the lower part of the meat will be as delicately done as the other part. This will enable you to take out the contents of the pot without sticking a fork into it. If you have not a trivet, use four skewers, or a soup-plate laid the wrong side upwards.

It is desirable that meat for boiling be of an equal thickness, or before thicker parts are done enough the thinner will be done too much.

Put your meat into water, in the proportion of about a quart of water to a pound of meat. It should be covered with water during the whole of the process of boiling, but not drowned in it. The less water, provided the meat be covered with it, the more savory will be the meat, and the better will be the broth.

When the pot is coming to a boil there will always, from the cleanest meat and clearest water, rise a scum to the top of it, proceeding partly from the water. This must be carefully taken off as soon as it rises. When you have skimmed well, put in some cold water, which will throw up the rest of the scum. The oftener it is skimmed, and the cleaner the top of the water is kept, the sweeter and the cleaner will be the meat.

If let alone, the scum soon boils down and sticks to the meat, which, instead of looking delicately white and nice, will have that coarse and filthy appearance we have too often to complain of, and the butcher and poulterer be blamed for the carelessness of the cook in not skimming her pot.

Salt meat should be put into lukewarm water for the purpose of drawing out some of the salt. Salt hardens the fiber of the meat, which requires it to be cooked for a longer time to make it tender.

Fresh-killed meat will take much longer time boiling than that which has been kept till it is what the butchers call ripe, and longer in cold than in warm weather. If it be frozen, it must be thawed before boiling as before roasting.

If you let meat or poultry remain in the water after it is done enough, it will become sodden, and lose its flavor.

Posted in Meat.


  1. I never knew there was a difference of when to cook meat in cold or hot water before. I am glad I read this. As I learned something new today.

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