Aspic jelly, or gelée (zhuh lay),is clarified stock that contains enough gelatin that it solidifies when cold.The gelatin may be naturally extracted from bones or added from a package. Good stock naturally contains a certain amount of gelatin but, in most cases, it must be supplemented with additional unflavored packaged gelatin.
Aspic jelly may be nearly colorless (white aspic) or various shades of amber. Most often, however, it must be crystal clear. This is achieved by clarifying it like a consommé. White or light-colored aspic is used when the natural colors of the foods and decorations must show through. Amber or golden aspic enhances the brown color of foods such as roasted meats and poultry.
Aspic is used as a coating for foods and as a binding ingredient.When it is used as a coating,it has three main purposes:
1. To protect foods from the air, which would dry them out and discolor them.
2. To improve appearance and give shine.
3. To add flavor.This last purpose is, of course, best accomplished if the stock is of high quality.
As a binding ingredient, aspic is used in mousses, terrines, and aspic molds, as discussed later in this chapter. It is also the binding agent in chaud-froid sauce (see p. 850). Note: When aspic is used as a binding agent, it need not be perfectly clarified.
In addition, when congealed and chopped or cut into various shapes, aspic jelly is used as a garnish for platters or servings of pâtés, terrines, and other cold items.
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