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Aspic - Definition and Recipes

Definition: Aspic—The name given to a clear savory jelly made from meat, and is used to decorate entrees, pies, hams, tongues, game, pigs' heads, salads, prawns, vegetables, fish, etc.

Savory Jellies or Aspics

Jellies are to cold cookery what consommés and stock are to hot. If anything, the former are perhaps more important, for a cold entrée—however perfect it may be in itself—is nothing without its accompanying jelly.

In the recipes which I give hereafter I have made a point of showing how melting jellies may be obtained, i.e. served in a sauce-boat simultaneously with the cold comestible, or actually poured over it when the latter lies in a deep dish—a common custom nowadays.

This method of serving cold entrées, which I inaugurated at the Savoy Hotel with the "Supreme de Volaille Jeannette,” is the only one which allows of serving a jelly in a state of absolute perfection.

Nevertheless, if a more solid jelly were required, either for the decking of cold dishes or for a molded entrée, there need only be added to the following formulae a few gelatin leaves—more or less—according to the required firmness of the jelly.

But it should not be forgotten that the greater the viscosity of the jelly the less value will the same possess.

Ordinary Aspics

Stock for Ordinary Aspic.—Quantities for making Four Quarts.

  • 4 lbs. of strung knuckle of veal.
  • 3 calf’s feet, boned and blanched
  • 3 lbs. of strung knuckle of beef
  • 1/2 lb. of fresh pork rind, well broken up
  • 3 lbs. of veal bones, well blanched and with fat removed

Mode of Procedure.—Put the meats in a very clean and well- tinned stockpot or stewpan. Add eight quarts of cold water, boil, and skim after the manner indicated under No. 1. Having well skimmed the stock add one oz. of salt, put it on the side of the fire, and let it boil gently for four hours.

Then remove the meat, taking care not to disturb the stock. Carefully remove the fat, and garnish with one-half lb. of carrots, six oz. of onions, two oz. of leeks, a stick of celery, and a large faggot. Put the whole back on to the fire and cook gently for a further two hours. Strain through a sieve into a very clean basin and leave to cool.

Clarification of Aspic.—When the stock, prepared according to the above directions, has cooled, the grease that has formed on its surface should be removed.

Then pour off gently into a stew- pan of convenient size in such a way as to prevent the deposit at the bottom of the basin from mixing with the clear liquor.

Test the consistence of the aspic, when it should be found that the quantities given above have proved sufficient to form a fairly firm jelly. If, however, this be not the case, a few leaves of gelatine steeped in cold water should be added, being careful not to overdo the quantity.

Now add to the stock two lbs. of lean beef (first minced and then pounded together with the white of an egg), a little chervil and tarragon, and a few drops of lemon-juice.

Place the saucepan on an open fire, stir its contents with a spatula until the liquid begins to boil, remove it from the fire, and place it on the side of the stove, where it may boil gently for half an hour.

At the end of this time take the saucepan off the fire and remove what little grease has formed on the aspic while cooking. Strain through a serviette stretched and fastened across the legs of an overturned stool, and let the aspic fall into a basin placed between the legs.

Ascertain whether the liquid is quite clear, and if, as frequently happens, this be not the case, what has already been strained should once more be passed through the serviette, renewing the operation until the aspic becomes quite transparent.

Flavoring the Aspic.—The aspic obtained as above is limpid, has an agreeable savor, and is the color of fine amber. It now only requires flavoring according to the tastes of the consumer and the purpose for which it is intended. For this operation it should be allowed to become quite tepid, and the following quantities of choice wine are added to it, viz. : —

  • If the wine is of a liqueur kind, such as Sherry, Marsala, Madeira, &c., one-fifth pint per quart.
  • If it is another kind of wine, for example, champagne, hock, &c., one-fourth pint per quart.
  • The wine used should be very clear, free from any deposit, and as perfect as possible in taste.

ASPIC JELLY—Plenty of veal knuckles, calls feet boned and blanched, and a fowl or two are covered with clear water, fetched slowly to a boil, skimmed, a little cold water then added, again brought to the boil and skimmed, carrots, onions, celery, parsley, a little garlic, bay leaves, thyme, mace and whole peppers are then added and simmered slowly for six hours, fat taken off, then strained through a Consommé towel, allowed to become quite cold and all fat removed.

Then placed over a quick fire, brought to the boil, skimmed, removed to cool off a little; while cooling, gelatine at the rate of two ounces to the gallon is added; some lean veal is now chopped fine and mixed with some whipped whites of eggs and egg shells, also a bottle of white wine, this mixture poured into the cooling stock and allowed to come to a slow boil.

When just at boiling point a little ice water containing lemon juice is put in, and as soon as coagulation takes place it is drawn to one side and allowed to simmer slowly for an hour longer, then strained through a jelly bag and set away for use.

ASPICS—Dishes of all savory sorts that are put together with aspic jelly or aspic mayonnaise, such as pieces of fish placed in order in a mold and fastened there with aspic jelly, the mold being set on ice and the interior filled with something solidified by having melted jelly mixed in, or chicken, shrimps or lobster on a fiat dish with aspic cooled upon or around them.

Aspic or Soles or Other Fish— Fillets of solos rolled up cone-shape are steamed, half of them placed point downwards in a mold, melted pale aspic jelly poured in to just cover; set in ice to become firm. Some jelly colored green poured into the next tier of fillets point upwards on top of the former when set solid. Yolks of hard-boiled eggs rubbed through a sieve, mixed in more jelly to fill up mold when again set. Turned out on a lace paper covered dish; highly ornamented.

Aspic of Fillets or Trout—A dozen fillets of fish with butter and seasonings lightly baked in a covered pan and then cooled with a light weight upon them to flatten. When cold, cut out rounds about size of silver dollar are placed in order in a mold lined with a coating of aspic by turning it about on ice and parsley, eggs, anchovies in strips, and capers added in ornamental patterns, the inside filled with more fillets mixed with mayonnaise jelly.

Aspics of poultry livers, ox-palates, quenelles, fillets of Ruine, chicken, turtle fins, plovers' eggs and almost anything can be made either in molds or in fiat dishes surrounded with a green salad, or in a border mold, the center to be filled with a salad after it is turned out.

Aspic à la Czarina (Club specialty)—The meat of 3 grouse pounded in a mortar, seasoned, passed through sieve, mixed with a pint of whipped cream, little aspic and chaudfroid sauce. Set in a square shallow mold on ice. Turned out, dressed with brown chaudfroid sauce, decorated with truffles and aspic on a stand of rice, and surrounded with green salad.

Chicken Aspic

The quantities of meat are the same as for ordinary aspic; there need only be added to it either two oven-browned hens, or their equivalent in weight of roasted fowl carcasses, and poultry giblets if these are handy.

It is always better, however, to prepare the stock with the hens and giblets and to keep the carcasses for the clarification. This clarification follows the same rules as that of the ordinary aspic, except that a few roasted-fowl carcasses, previously well freed from fat, are added to it.

In the case of this particularly delicate aspic, it is more than ever necessary not to overdo the amount of gelatine. It should be easily soluble to the palate in order to be perfect.

Game Aspic

Prepare this aspic stock in exactly the same way as that of ordinary aspic, only substitute game, such as deer, roebuck, doe, or hare, or wild rabbit (previously browned in the oven), for the beef.

When possible also add to this stock a few old specimens of feathered game, such as partridges or pheasants that are too tough for other purposes and which suit admirably here.

The clarification changes according to the different flavors which are to be given to the aspic. If it is not necessary to give it a special characteristic, it should be prepared with the meat of that ground game which happens to be most available at the time, adding to the quantity used roast carcasses of feathered game, the respective amounts of both ingredients being the same as for ordinary aspic.

If, on the other hand, the aspic is to have a well-defined flavor, the meat used for the clarification should naturally be that producing the flavor in question, i.e., either partridge or pheasant, or hazel-hen, etc.

Some aspics are greatly improved by being flavored with a small quantity of old brandy. Rather than use an inferior kind of this ingredient, however, I should advise its total omission from the aspic.

Without aromatisation the aspic, though imperfect, is passable; but aromatized with bad brandy it is invariably spoilt.

Fish Aspic with Red Wine

This aspic stock is the Court-bouillon with red wine No. 165, which has served in cooking the fish for which the aspic is intended; this fish is generally either trout or salmon; sometimes also, but less commonly, a carp or a pike.

This stock must first of all have its grease thoroughly removed; it should then be poured carefully away, reduced if necessary, and the required quantity of gelatin added.

This cannot be easily determined, as all gelatins are not alike, and the stock may have contracted a certain consistence from its contact with the fish. One can, therefore, only be guided by testing small quantities cooled in ice, but care should be taken that the aspic be not too firm.

The clarification of this aspic is generally made with white of egg in the proportion of one white per quart. The white, half-whisked, is added to the cold stock, and the latter is put over an open fire and stirred with a spatula. As soon as it boils, the aspic is poured through a serviette fixed on to the legs of an overturned stool. The first drippings of the fluid are put back on to the serviette if they do not seem clear, and this operation is repeated until the required clearness is obtained.

It almost invariably happens that, either during the cooking of the fish or during the clarification, the wine loses its color through the precipitation of the coloring elements derived from the tannin.

The only way of overcoming this difficulty is to add a few drops of liquid carmine or vegetable red; but, in any case, it is well to remember that the color of red-wine aspic must never be deeper than a somber pink.

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