Master Class #42 | 9:30 am | 17 April 2006

Foies de Volaille en AspicMastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1

Foies de Volaille en Aspic, p. 548
Chicken Livers in Aspic

Since a frequent theme here is that one may as well be hung for a wolf as a sheep, if I am going to make aspic (uuuurgh), I’m going to do it the hard way. That was my goal, at least; finding two calves’ hooves is a lot harder than it used to be. I called several shops and pretty much struck out — the closest I got was Stoddard’s, who could get a sixty-pound box, if I took it all. (If I had two friends who were interested in splitting it with me… anyone?) The double bummer of not finding the feet is that I used commercial stock; no time now to bother, and the good stuff I had made was hiding in the freezer to be used for liver-dumpling soup at an upcoming German dinner party.

I did, however, learn a nice trick. From page 111, the Clarification du Bouillon! Often jealous of the perfectly clear chicken broth that comes with the matzo from Benji’s or Ella’s or Kroll’s, I’d never realized it comes from an extra clarifying step that’s a little futzy but well worth the trouble. Egg whites are beaten into some hot stock that is then whisked into the rest of the hot stock, stirred until the simmer, then simmered slowly for twenty minutes. When you’re done, the egg whites will have picked up all the particulate matter in the stock. Gently strain it through five layers of cheesecloth, and Voilà! Gorgeously transparent.

The rest of this was really simple – Sauté the livers in butter, add some shallots, seasoning and liquor, and let chill in the cooking juices. Since I wasn’t doing this the hard way, I added some gelatin envelopes to the stock, and poured about an eighth of an inch of it into the bottom of some small copper molds. When those had set and the livers had chilled, I just plonked down the livers in the mold (with no directions otherwise, I included a bit of the shallot), covered them with the rest of the aspic, shoved them back in the refrigerator–and then hid in a corner, rocking.

We put off eating dinner until we were ravenous. Remembering that everything goes better with fried bread, I whipped up some canapés quick-like, and turned out two molds. We held hands and closed our eyes… and it was OK. Really, what’s to hate about this? Chicken livers, yum; shallots sautéed in butter and madiera, yum; beef broth, yum; –it’s just the gelatin part that gets it a little weird. The canapés helped, as did the lettuce underneath. This was really a bit much to eat a whole one. It was rich enough that we didn’t eat anything else, which led to waking up really hungry. This isn’t something I’d put into regular rotation, but it might be something to pull out when you need an unusual but tasty hors d’oeuvres. I plopped one out onto the cheese tray for Easter Equinox Dinner, and it was made short work of. One down, lots more scary aspics to go!

3 comments on “Master Class #42”

  1. ltlwing47@yahoo.com

    You can get the hooves…in the pet department. Yes, I’m serious.

  2. Miriam

    Whaaaa? Really? Pet department of where? Fresh frozen, not smoked?

    I do know where I can get bags of chicken feet, maybe I should hit the Asian markets this weekend.

  3. ltlwing47

    MOst big stores like Woodman’s have them. It’s just the hoof part, no flesh or bone…but that should serve to gelatinize your food…right? I’m not sure. They stink to high heaven, I know that.

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