What is Aspic / Meat Jelly? - Vintage Recipes and Cookery (2024)

Aspic is a savory stock made from cooking meat slowly, creating a natural gelatin that thickens, then turns to a jelly when it cools. In the past, aspics were used to preserve meats because the gelatin helped keep out air and bacteria.

In the late 1800s, Charles Knox created a commercial gelatin, which saved a lot of time.

Aspic can be used as a glaze, garnish, or prepared in a mold with foods such as meat, fruits, or vegetables set into the stock before it congeals.

It was quite popular in the U.S. up to the 1950s, but later fell out of favor.


Boil lean beef or veal till tender. If you have any beef or veal bones, crack and boil them with the meat (they should be boiled longer than the meat), together with a little salt pork, sweet herbs, and pepper and salt. When boiled sufficiently, take it off the heat, strain it, and let it remain till the next day. Then skim off the fat, take up the jelly, and scrape off the dregs that adhere to the bottom of it. Put in the whites and shells of several eggs, several blades of mace, a little wine, and lemon juice. Set it on the fire, stir it well till it boils, then strain it till clear through a jelly bag.

Draw* one large chicken and boil until the meat drops from the bones and there is about one pint of liquid. Chop the chicken meat and add one teaspoon salt, one-half teaspoon pepper, and one tablespoon celery salt. Hard boil three eggs, soak one-half package gelatinfor five minutes, then add to the hot liquid. Chill a mold and put in a layer of chicken and three eggs, sliced, and put the balance of the chicken in. Pour the liquid on the mold and chill.

*draw – remove the entrails (internal organs)

Cut four middling-sized onions in slices. Lay them in a stewpan with a quarter of a pound of bacon (not smoked), then add about a quarter of a pound of each of the following meats: chicken, game (any kind), mutton, and beef. Also add a calf’s foot split in two, two ounces of rind of bacon, two sprigs of parsley, two of thyme, a clove of garlic, two carrots cut in two and four small onions. Wet with half a pint of water and set on a brisk fire, covered.

When nearly cooked, take the grease off with a ladle. Add boiling water enough just to cover the whole, and finish the cooking. Strain the juice, skim off the fat, if any, and let it cool. If it is not found clear enough when strained, beat well two whites of eggs, put them in the stewpan with the juice, set it on a sharp fire for about ten minutes, stirring the while, and take from the fire. Add to it a few drops of lemon-juice, and strain again.

Put in a mold some of the above juice, about one-fourth of an inch in depth. Place the mold on ice and leave till the juice has turned into a jelly. Lay on that jelly some of the following meats, free from bones, cooked beforehand: chicken, game, tongues of beef, calf, and sheep, of all or of either of them (the meats must be cooked beforehand). Don’t allow the pieces to touch the sides of the mold. Cover the whole with the remainder of the juice, so as to have about the same thickness at the top as at the bottom. Place the mold in a refrigerator to cool and turn into a jelly. Then dip the mold in very warm water, turn over on a dish, remove the mold, and you have a fine entrée.

* refrigerator – ice boxes that held blocks of ice were also called refrigerators in the 1800s.

Cover a four-pound fat chicken with boiling water, season with salt and black pepper, and simmer until tender. Remove chicken. Season liquor* with a finely chopped small onion, a few cloves, a dash of cayenne, and boil down to about one pint and a half. Soak the contents of one box of gelatinWhat is Aspic / Meat Jelly? - Vintage Recipes and Cookery (1) in a cup of cold water with one tablespoon of lemon juice added. Pour into chicken stock and boil a few seconds. Remove from the fire and strain, then clarify with the whites of two eggs. Dice the cold chicken and add half the quantity of celery cut fine. Just before the gelatin begins to set, put a little in the bottom of individual cups, add chicken and celery and finish the top with more gelatin. Put cups near ice until ready to serve. Using a thin-bladed warm knife, turn out of cups onto lettuce leaves, and with a paper tube, squeeze a little ring of stiff mayonnaise around the base of the salad.

*liquor – liquid, juice

Scoop out the centers of six even-sized ripetomatoes, remove the skins, and chill thoroughly. Pass the yolks of two hard-boiled eggs through a sieve and add one-half cup lobster meat, chopped fine. Also add one tablespoon of capers, half a cup of mayonnaise, and half a cup of chicken aspic, thick and cold, but not set. Stir these in a dish standing in ice water until nearly set, then fill the cavities in the tomatoes with the mixture. Brush over the outside of the tomatoes with half-set aspic. When the aspic is set, repeat twice, then set aside on ice for some time before serving. Serve on a bed of lettuce seasoned with French dressing. Garnish each tomato with a sprig of parsley and the salad-dish with blocks of aspic. Anchovies or any cooked fish may be substituted for the lobster. Serve with mayonnaise.

Pour the liquid jelly into a new tin to the depth of half an inch. Dip a napkin in cold water, wring it out and spread it smoothly over the meat-board. Dip the pan in warm water and turn the jelly onto the napkin. When turned from the mold, cut in squares or diamonds using a knife dipped in hot water, wiped dry.

Image from Deposit Photos


Have you ever had aspic or made a savory gelatin dish? Please leave a comment below.


What is Aspic / Meat Jelly? - Vintage Recipes and Cookery (2)What is Aspic / Meat Jelly? - Vintage Recipes and Cookery (3)Aspic and gelatindesserts aren’t as popular as they used to be, but gelatin is also being used for health reasons; for healthy skin, bones, joints, hair, and nails.

There are many types of gelatins; some dissolve well in cold liquids, others in hot liquids.

What is Aspic / Meat Jelly? - Vintage Recipes and Cookery (4)Great Lakes Gelatin – Collagen Hydrolysate Kosher – Unflavored

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What is Aspic / Meat Jelly? - Vintage Recipes and Cookery (2024)
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