Thursday, February 18, 2010

Nanny's Crab Aspic

Ever since I wrote a story about eating dinner with my grandparents I have been thinking (obsessing?) about the crab aspic that my grandmother, Nanny used to make. It was very old fashioned, very British (as I came to find out once we moved to England) and defied my sense of logic. Was it a Jell-O dessert or something savoury? I couldn’t wrap my 12 year-old mind around it, but I loved it all the same.

Aspic, for those of you who haven’t dined with an 80 year-old British woman recently, is a savoury gelatin. In classic French dishes, it is often made from the bones and stock of veal or pork, set, then cut into small cubes and scattered around an ornate roast or main dish. But it can also be made for vegetarian dishes, as well. Simply put, Jell-O, or ‘jelly’ as it is referred to here in the UK, is usually sweet and aspic is almost always savoury.

Nanny’s Crab Aspic was made of tomato juice, crab, sliced green olives and celery. If you are not used to aspics, the aforementioned ingredients list may have turned you right off this recipe. But if you like the flavour of a Bloody Mary, then you might just like my recipe for B. Mary’s Crab Aspic.

I made a batch yesterday to serve as a light salad before a dinner of slow roasted beef, petite pois, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. I placed the small salad plate down in front of Jeff-- the ripe, red aspic glistening in the kitchen lights. He looked at it, and, having obviously not recently dined with an 80 year-old British woman, said, “I will eat this if I have to….but, do I have to?”
‘No,’ I replied. ‘More for me.’ As if that was a triumph; I had nine aspics to get through.
... They are good for breakfast, by the way.

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