The Manual of Southern Know-How

How to Make an Appealing Tomato Aspic

Three Southern chefs on bringing back the classic dish

photo: Johnny Autry


Too bad tomato aspic gets voted into the fruitcake hall of shame. The tangy molded dish can jump-start a meal or add a pop of acidity to fatty foods. Why not experiment with refreshing the classic?


GAZPACHO-STYLE

Kristen Essig, a chef-owner of Coquette in New Orleans, takes the strained juice of fresh, raw red tomatoes seasoned with lemon juice and salt, then “barely sets” the mixture with bloomed gelatin sheets, which offer more control than powder does and gives the aspic a gazpacho vibe. “In season, I use Green Zebra or yellow tomatoes instead. It looks like a jewel.”


CONSUMMATE CONSOMMÉ

Steven Satterfield heats heirloom varieties with red slicers to form a consommé broth deepened with Vidalia onion, celery, apple cider vinegar, and cloves. The executive chef and co-owner of Atlanta’s Miller Union places the container of broth in a bowl of ice while mixing in the gelatin to help the liquid cool. “Stir it continuously so it doesn’t tighten up against the surface.”


SHAPE SHIFTER

Georgia chef Hugh Acheson slices tomato aspic into cubes to garnish such dishes as roasted fish. The key is to ensure the flavor is there while the aspic’s still in liquid form, so taste your broth, and tinker with it by adding lemon juice or celery leaf. “Add just enough gelatin to hold it together, but not so much as to turn it into rubber.


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