We all know whose fault it really is: Julia Child.
Kidding! It’s obviously gelatin, in league with Julia Child.
Normally, I like to put a photo of the finished dish at the top of each post. This time, I’m just putting them in order of actual occurrence. Because I am not going to pull any punches here: aspic is fucking disgusting. If at any time you feel like you need to bail, feel free, and know that you’ve seen all the pertinent photos up to that point. Know also that I could have shown you a lot more but have chosen to hold back for your safety and that of those around you.
Two other important things about this post – the only text in this post will be:
- A brief description of what you are viewing
- A variation on the phrase “Aspic is fucking disgusting.”
Note that I have not categorized this as “failure,” because the recipe WAS successfully executed but happens to result in a horrific final product. The sauce that eventually gelatinizes can also be used as a a hot sauce sans-gelatin and is delicious (if not a bit rich).
Again, you’ve been warned. We begin:
1. Above is the butter melting for the butter-poached chicken that is to be be-aspicked. (Yes, butter-poached. This is Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking, after all. Also, “vile chicken aspic” is charmingly named “suprêmes de volaille en Chaud-froid a lÉcossaise)”.
2. Aspic makes me want to claw my own intestines out with a spoon. A wooden spoon.
1. Yes, I know what this looks like: boneless chicken breasts, which is what they are, prior to their butter bath.
2. Eating aspic is like watching someone beat a new puppy with the chewy bone you just bought it as a gift.
1. Here, we’ve coated the chicken breasts in the melted butter and put a round of parchment over them before putting the lid on the pot and sticking it in the oven for six minutes. Which, would that not be braising in butter? And what kind of crazy ovens do the French have that can cook a chicken breast in six minutes? I’m just saying.
2. I would rather saw my own arm off with a credit card, dig out the radial bone and fashion it into a small dagger with which to slit my own throat than eat aspic.
1. While the cooked chicken (eventual total cooking time: 17 minutes) chilled, I chopped mushrooms, celery, onion and carrots for the sauce/chicken Jell-o. Yes, some of the carrots look pink. That’s because they are. They’re sweet and yummy. At least something tonight was.*
2. Aspic is the culinary world’s poor man’s Carrot Top.
*I take that back: the takeout we got in the end was pretty damn good as well.
1. They all got sauteed in yes, more butter, before going into a mix of heavy cream and chicken stock along with a sprig of tarragon.
2. I would rather have a 24-course tasting menu at Paula Deen’s house during National Mayonnaise Month (May) than eat one bite of aspic.
1. Once the cream and vegetable mixture had reduced a bit, we whisked in some gelatin that had been softened in dry vermouth, stirred to combine, and put the future creamy chicken Jell-O* in an ice bath to cool.
2. Hitler loved aspic.
1. When both the chicken and cream were chilled, we arranged the chicken in a shallow dish and started spooning the cream on top Spoon, chill, repeat.
2. Stalin loved aspic, too. And Mao. He forced his soldiers to eat it during the Long March. It’s why so many of them died.
1. Once you spoon-chill-repeat enough times, you use up all the cream and you end up with this. Please understand that this is not chicken covered in sauce, it is a SOLID MASS OF FOOD. You can stand the plate on end and IT WILL NOT MOVE.
2. Habitat for Humanity was going to use the plentiful world supply of aspic as a building material and eco-friendly insulator for homes for the homeless, but the homeless said “no, thank you.”
1. This is what happens at the end. Cold, poached chicken buried under a layer of cream, chicken and tarragon-flavored Jell-o. Writing that sentence made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. The look and sound of the entire mass slooooowly sliding off the plate into the trash will haunt me in my dreams, which is why I’m not going to sleep tonight. I hope I have enough amphetamines.
2. Aspic has a hook for a hand and is waiting in the backseat of your car to kill you, so thank god for that person behind you who kept flashing his or her highbeams.
To sum up: Aspic is fucking disgusting.