Ask Rennie Vol. 8: Holiday Hoo-Ha
Posted on December 4th, 2011
I don’t know if it’s Occupy Wall St., that freak October snowstorm or what, but my holiday fervor has about as much bounce as the elastic in Blanche DuBois’ oldest girdle. In order to try to plump up our sagging seasonal bouffants, my roommates and I have decided to put on a traditional living crèche. We’re a little confused—how much of a faux pas is it to eat the participating animals afterwards? We’re hoping the answer is ‘not at all’, because it’s this lamb, or, a tube of E-Z Cheez. And the E-Z Cheez has never crapped in the living room.
Yours in nativity play fellowship,
Loving Animals Really in Dunwoodie
I, alas, am not conversant with this Madame DuBois, but she should be made generally aware of my most fervent desire to procure more fitting undergarments for all such ladies who find themselves, at inopportune moments, bereft of the support they have come to expect (and, indeed, deserve). Let no balcon be without, no décolletage be cast-down by callous disregard!
As for your query, mon frère, I would never be one such gentleman who would stand in the way of the gourmand’s natural inclination to consume handily adjacent animals, once they have performed in the service of the dramatic arts. (What, pray tell, is E-Z Cheez? Is it something I should send Robert out to the shops for? My instinct says ‘yes’, my lunch of oysters says ‘perhaps later, Rennie, these culottes are already snug’…)
But what, you say, what, dear Rennie, am I to do with this barnyard of edibles that is presently on the hoof within the confines of my estate? And to that, sir, I reply, in the words of my friend Albert: gelée. A quivering, trembling, gasp-inducing triumph of that most beloved dish—aspic.
The soft sigh of aspic may not remind you, as it does me, of the tender inner thigh of your first dairy maid, shy but willing in the late-afternoon autumn light cascading through the leaf-sheltered window of your uncle’s milking room, but, that is no reason to avoid its languid caress, or to leave its mysteries unexplored! Gentlemen, I urge you—preserve not only your bearings as true knights of the house of gourmand, but, preserve also the flavors of this deep season as amber does the creatures of some other time, by preparing the following dishes. Eat, savor, remember—that lamb that once despoiled your carpet has now given of itself that you may sup elegantly even as the light wanes, and the belts are let out yet another notch before the turning of the year.
No girdles are required—only your senses.
Yours in reverie and delight, as always,
G. de la R.
Ingredients for 8 servings
500g veal bones
500g veal shank
1 calf’s foot
500 g beef round
1 stalk of celery
1 clove of garlic
1 bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf, parsley)
salt and pepper
4000 ml water
2 egg whites
1 leek greens
1. Place the cut up bones, meat and water in a stock pot. Bring to a boil; skim the surface.
2. Chop the vegetables finely and add to the pot with the bouquet garni and seasonings. Simmer for 4-5 hours, skimming occasionally. The liquid should reduce by a half.
3. Remove the bones and meat (you can use it in a pâté or as a ravioli filling). Strain and cool the liquid. Remove the fat that congeals on the surface.
1. Coarsely chop the leek leaves; combine them with the egg whites; add 3 tbsp. cooled but still liquid aspic.
2. Pour this mixture into the aspic and bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. As the egg white coagulates it will trap all the impurities. Simmer very gently for 20 minutes.
3. Strain through a fine strainer or clean cloth. The aspic will set as it cools. Reheat it gently over low heat to return it to its liquid state.
Eggs in Aspic
1 1⁄2 cups veal aspic (in liquid state)
2 tsp. peppercorns, crushed
6 sprigs parsley, chopped
3 sprigs tarragon, chopped
3 egg whites
1⁄2 leek or small onion, chopped
1⁄2 rib celery, chopped
1⁄2 small carrot, chopped
3 tbsp. port
Kosher salt, to taste
Canola oil, for greasing
3 bell peppers, cored, seeded,
and cut into small 1⁄2″ diamonds
4 eggs, poached and chilled
Baby greens, for garnish
1. Grease four 4-oz. oval aspic molds. Spoon about 2 tsp. of aspic into each mold. Chill until almost set, 8–10 minutes. Arrange 6 pepper diamonds, skin side up, in each mold on the aspic; top with 1 tbsp. aspic. Chill until set. Transfer eggs to paper towels; trim away ragged edges of whites. Put an egg inside each mold; cover eggs by 1⁄4″ with remaining aspic. Chill until completely set, about 2 hours.
2. To serve, slide a knife along edge of molds; set in a bowl of hot water for 5 seconds. Invert aspic onto plates; garnish with greens.
(adapted from saveur.com)