Fun with Aspic

Happy Memorial Day, everybody! Team Vintage Eats spent yesterday experiencing a dizzying array of foodist (no, refuse to say “foodie”) wonders throughout the Greater Boston area. The day started out in the North End, where we spent an inordinate amount of time sampling cheese and salumi over at Salumeria Italiana.

The cheesemonger, Chris, started us off with Moliterno al Tartufolo – a really beautiful, truffled cow/sheep’s milk cheese  – then progressed onward towards a mild-then-slowly-intensifying P’tit Basque, and finally onto a subtle-but-still-funky Mountain Gorgonzola from Lombardy.

We rounded out the cheese fest with some slices of prosciutto to top our pasta and bresaola, which tasted like it had been smoked over sandalwood… yum. The culinary journey continued with a trip to Neptune  Oysters, where Island Creeks (among other domestic bivalves) were slurped and a lobster roll with GIGANTIC chunks of lobster was had. After mopping up the lobster-infused butter with the soft, grilled bun, we were off to the Charles Square Farmer’s Market in Harvard Square, where we picked up some mint to mix in with the cheese to use as a filling.

Next time, we’ll write up the recipe we came up with for  ravioli primavera using these ingredients (using a “ribbon macaroni” recipe from Antonia Isola’s 1912 publication by the name of Simple Italian Cookery – the first Italian cookbook to be printed in the U.S). We’ll also tell you about a gem in Carlisle – Kimball Farm – an ice cream stand/Massachusetts institution since 1939.

In today’s post, however, we’re going to talk poultry. And aspic. A cheeekon jello of sorts – very en vogue on the Victorian table. It’s quite striking, really. Suspend your disbelief, take a sneak peak at this antique recipe and read on:

Remember the chicken we mentioned from Westminster Meats? We bought a five pounder from Desna the last time we visited the SoWa Open Market and roasted it the night we made mizuna salad, radish tea sandwiches and had the awful egg with asparagus fail.

After peeling and eating the salty, crispy skin (hands down, our favorite part of the chicken), we separated the breasts and legs from the carcass.

Roast a chicken, eat the legs, remove the meat from the breasts and shred. Toss the carcass into a large stockpot with ten cups of water. Add the green tops from three leeks (rinsed free of all dirt) and five bay leaves. Bring up on medium heat, almost to a boil, then turn down to a bubbling simmer.

Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, reducing the ten cups of liquid by half. Salt to taste and don’t be afraid to salt til it tastes rich – there’s nothing worse than weak chicken broth. Separate and chill one cup of liquid, and keep the rest hot.

To make this version of aspic, you’ll need:

1 box of gelatin (4 envelopes)
5-6 cups of strongly flavored chicken broth – 5 cups hot, 1 cup cold
1 1/2 cups brightly colored cut vegetables (we used thinly sliced pea pods, radishes and yellow bell pepper)
1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
2 Tbsp minced herbs (we used mint)

Dissolve the gelatin in the cold chicken stock. Set aside for one minute to thicken. Then, stir the cold broth into the hot. Throw the veggies and shredded chicken into a decorative glass bowl, then pour the gelatinous stock over the top. Place in the fridge and chill overnight. Here’s what the finished product looked like:

Perfect for an office potluck.

Published in: on 30 May, 2011 at 15:13  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Okay, the suspense is killing me here – how was it??? (And how did the “un-molding” go?)

  2. It was actually pretty great, but I’m partial to meat jello in the form of “holodets” (Russian in origin, made with pork). I’m sure it’s an acquired taste, despite its good looks ;) The unmolding didn’t happen. We just ate straight out deh bowl :-) Unmolding will happen during “Advanced Vintage Eats”, methinks.

  3. It sure is beautiful. Just saying cheecken jello is fun too. As is cheecken pudding, cheecken boogers…

  4. […] remember that cheese and prosciutto that we picked up at Salumeria Italiana? And that trip to Charles Square […]

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