1 spare-rib of pork
Sage leaves, powdered
A bacon spare-rib usually weighs about eight or nine pounds, and will take from two to three hours to roast it thoroughly; not exactly according to its weight, but the thickness of the meat upon it, which varies very much. Lay the thick end nearest to the fire.
A proper bald spare-rib of eight pounds weight (so called because almost all the meat is pared off), with a steady fire, will be done in an hour and a quarter. There is so little meat on a bald spare-rib, that if you have a large, fierce fire, it will be burned before it is warm through. Joint it nicely, and crack the ribs across as you do ribs of lamb.
When you put it down to roast, dust on some flour, and baste it with a little butter; dry a dozen sage leaves, and rub them through a hair-sieve, and put them into the top of a pepper-box; and about a quarter of an hour before the meat is done, baste it with butter; dust the pulverized sage over it.
–Make it a general rule never to pour gravy over any thing that is roasted; by so doing, the dredging, &c., is washed off, and it eats insipid.
The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: This recipe clearly dates to the days of cooking over a kitchen hearth, essentially a large open fireplace. A whole range of implements, usually of cast iron, were required to hold the food in place, keep it the proper distance from the heat at each stage of cooking, and also to rotate it in such a way as to expose all surfaces of the meat to the flames. The technique of “dredging” is almost universal with hearth-roasted meats but we (never having tried it) are unsure as to exactly how it works–it would seem that the fat and other juices dripping off the roast would carry the dredging material, be it flour or spices, off into the drip pan with it. If we ever get a house big enough to hold a fireplace big enough to try this in, we’ll let you know. But however you do it, may your roasts never be insipid!