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How to Make Aspic: Recipes and How-To Tips


Aspic Is Synonymous With Retro Christmas Dinners and Cocktail Parties

Aspic is a jellied dish usually associated with meats, Christmas dinners and cookbooks from the 1960s and 1970s. Ornate jello molds shaped these dishes featuring suspended pieces of food on many dinner tables and cocktail buffets in post-war America. Originally used as a frugal way to use all the parts of an animal, the bones and other less-appetizing yet gelatine-rich parts were boiled down to make a jelly. Using substitutes like agar powder, aspics no longer have to be meat based.

Kajitsu is a Japanese restaurant in New York's East Village that specializes in Shojin Nayori, a form of cooking that uses no animal products. Chef Nishihara at Kajitsu creates a beautiful summer vegetable aspic. The Nut Gourmet offers up a Wasabi Pistachio Vegetable Aspic that not only sounds lovely but has a beautiful presentation. The Now And Zen Epicure features a recipe for a Vegan Aspic Terrine.

I came across this blog with a recipe for an asparagus aspic, but its written in Italian so I don't think I can make this one. The presentation is lovely though.

Aspic Is A Chilled Consomme - With added gelatin

A consomme is a clarified stock, free of fat and impurities. The stock should be made with one of a lean meat or vegetables. For a consomme, you'll use a *forcemeat of lean meats, vegetables and egg whites.

Simmer the lean stock on its own, then add a few ladles of stock to the forcemeat. After incorporating stock to the forcemeat, add this mixture to your stockpot. Simmer this mixture, stirring every once in a while. As the mixture heats, the albumen from the egg whites and meat will congele to form a raft of solids that will rise to the surface. When this happens, stop stirring. Make a hole in the middle of the raft, allowing the stock to simmer through. Simmer your stock mixture this way for about 90 minutes. Afterwards, strain the stock through a cheesecloth. You know have a consomme: Let it rest for 15 minutes. Absorb some of the fat from the top of your consomme by blotting it with paper towels. Adjust the seasoning of your consomme and return it to simmer for a while if you'd like the flavor to be stronger.

To turn your consomme into an aspic, add gelatin to the warm consomme at a rate of 1 tbsp gelatin for every cup of consomme.

*Never allow the stock mixture to boil!!

*Forcemeat - Forcemeat is a mixture of ground, lean meat emulsified with fat. The emulsification can be accomplished by either grinding, sieving, or pureeing the ingredients. The emulsification may either be smooth or coarse, depending on the desired consistency of the final product.

Chill Your Consomme To Make An Aspic

To suspend food in your aspic, pour 1 inch of the consomme into a shallow dish or mold. Be sure to have treated the container by lightly spraying some oil over it before pouring any aspic into it. Refrigerate approximately 30 minutes or until firm.

Then, place your sliced meats, fish, poultry or vegetables on top of this base (which will be the top of the aspic when you serve it. Any garnishes you wish to use should be placed in this layer as well. Red peppers, parsley, grated carrots or other colorful vegetables can be used for garnish.

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Next, pour more consomme over the first layer of your aspic until the container is about 2/3 full with liquid. Keep this layer shallow enough that the food doesn't float in the liquid but rather stays in place. Refrigerate this until the second layer is firm and then completely cover your aspic mold with the remaining consomme. Refrigerate until set and get ready to serve a delicious aspic.

Aspic Recipes

"We had it on our menu for a while and I couldn't sell it too well, so I started calling it a tomato consomme, which it completely is not," said Doug Hawkins, a waiter at Watershed in Decatur. "One woman at a table ordered it, and at the end of the meal I told her, 'Hey, you know that wasn't consomme, it was aspic,' and she said, 'Oh, I'm so glad you didn't tell me that before because I never would have ordered it or have enjoyed it as much.' "

Maybe saying it in French makes this dish more palatable to some. Apparently, Oeuf En Gelee is a common and popular snack in France. That's just another way to say "Egg in Aspic" though.

Should Aspic Still Be Around? - Is there a reason no one makes aspic anymore?

You don't often see an aspic anymore at people's holiday tables. Should we revitalize the forgotten art of aspic making and start it up again? Is this food preparation technique one that should be left in the past? What do you think?

Should we continue making aspics or leave this dish to remain in the forgotten cookbooks?

Needed To Make Your Aspic Gel - You're making jelly

A traditional aspic will use gelatine. Vegetarian versions will use agar powder (made from seaweed).

Old Cookbooks Are Good Sources For Aspic Recipes

Check out some old cookbooks from the 1950s through the 1970s for some excellent aspic recipes. These retro aspic recipes will probably feature meat rather than the vegan and vegetarian versions being touted today. You'll also get some awesome presentation ideas when flipping though old books from Better Homes and Gardens!

Have you ever tried an aspic before? Does it sound tasty to you or revolting? If you've tried aspic before, what was in the aspic you sampled?

Have You Ever Had Aspic Before? - Did you like it or not?

Blackspaniel1 on May 19, 2012:

Nice lens

anonymous on December 23, 2011:

very unique indeed, thank you for it!

Northwestphotos on December 15, 2011:

Yes, I have had Aspic before. But I am not crazy about it.

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