In Hungary there is a Meat-Jelly Festival held in February in the city of Miskolc, celebrating the end of the winter season. The event comprises concerts, performances, cooking competitions and stores where visitors can buy traditional Hungarian products and fare.
The favorite of the festival is not only the aspic but Mister Frog as well because there is a well known proverb in Hungarian “Blinks like frog in the Miskolc meat-jelly”. The legend behind that describes a careless waiter also who didn’t realize that a frog had jumped into the meat-jelly, which was then left in a cellar in order to congeal. The waiter then served the meat-jelly together with the frog which, the legend says, was still blinking. After the incident the story was dispersed in the form of postcards and gifts all over the country.
Nowadays the meat-jelly can be found in many other European nations’ cuisine. (The first recipe appeared in the oldest cookbook, written in France in 1395). Actually the aspic was invented to hold meats, prevents them from becoming spoiled. The gelatin kept out air and bacteria, keeping the cooked meat fresh.
Nearly any type of meat can be used to make the gelatin: pork, beef, veal, chicken, turkey, or fish. The aspic may need additional gelatin in order to set properly. Veal stock provides a great deal of gelatin; in making stock, veal is often included with other meat for that reason. Fish consommés usually have too little natural gelatin, so the fish stock may be double-cooked or supplemented. Since fish gelatin melts at a lower temperature than gelatins of other meats, fish aspic is more delicate and melts more readily in the mouth.
A meat jelly that includes cream is called a chaud-froid.
Clean and wash the meat. Put it into cold water and boil it. After boiling it for the first time pour the liquid off, pour fresh water on it and boil again. After that add the spices and the flavorings to it. Boil it slowly until it is ready. Take the big bones out of the meat and then put them into plates. Clean the fat from the surface of the liquid then pour the liquid into the plates onto the meat. After that put the plates to a cold place, let it cool down. Before serving you can put either red pepper or black pepper on the top or you can serve it with lemon also.
These visually spectacular aspic-based entrées were so popular in the late Victorian Period. The ballettes were served on a bed of aspic with artichoke bottoms farced with flageolets and garnished with sprigs of chervil and tarragon.