By Harold McGee
Meat and fish jellies go back to the Middle Ages, and are still delightful showpieces. They’re made much as consommé is, ideally from a flavorful meat stock—often cooked with a veal foot to provide enough gelatin—or from a double fish stock. The stocks are clarified with egg whites and chopped meat or fish, then filled and flavored just before they set. Aspics should be firm enough to be cut as necessary, but quivery and tender in the mouth, not rubbery. When made to coat a terrine or whole portion of meat, or to bind chopped meat together, they must be firmer, around 10–15% gelatin, so that they don’t run off the food or crumble. Fish jellies and aspics are especially delicate due to the low melting temperature of fish gelatin; they and their plates should be kept distinctly cold to prevent premature melting. A homely version of the meat aspic is boeuf à la mode, a pot roast braised in stock and wine along with a veal foot, then sliced and embedded in the strained jelly made by the cooking liquid. Chauds-froids are meat or fish jellies that include cream.