Ever since I read Julie & Julia, long before the movie was made, I’ve been somewhat skeptical about aspic. Somehow, wrapping my head around cold, gelatinous meat juice has presented some challenges.
You see, aspic has classical French roots and is a topic impossible to omit when learning French cooking technique. Aspic is traditionally a clarified stock containing enough natural gelatin- though additional is often added- to form a semi-solid when cooled.
It can be warmed and brushed to coat cold food items, or it can be molded into shapes with items suspended in it. Keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
Our chef instructor understands that veal jello with suspended celery bits probably won’t grace most American restaurant menus. So he has wisely given us ideas for more modern or palatable uses for this classic technique.
Imagine a clear, sweet carrot aspic, thickened with vegan agar agar, studded with tiny, artistically cut, arranged root vegetables in a myriad of colors… molded into petite cylinders and neatly tied around with a thin, fresh chive. Now that could be fun!
We’ve spent the last two days in class preparing all sorts of cold forcemeat dishes- chicken galantines, duck pate en croute, pork and liver terrines- that will be… deep breath… coated in chicken aspic today and eaten. Sausage has also made its way onto today’s menu and will probably be the star of the meal for most. But I’ve made a caramelized onion frittata this morning so I won’t be starving the rest of the day. You know, just in case.