Woah, woah, woah! – savory Jell-O??
“Get that away from me!”
Hang on, before you start freaking out let's sit down and calmly discuss this. Gelatin (or gelatine if you want to be fancier) is a very common item found in huge variety of products, and not all of them are food. It's derived from collagen present in animal skin and bone, so to be honest, gelatin is a savory item from the beginning. Natural gelatin is the reason why veal jus, when chilled, is so darn thick.
There's no flavor to it, unless you overheat it, and then it actually gets kind of a meaty note. It became really widespread in sweeter products due to its general lack of taste, and, for a large part, its greater thickening ability over other ingredients, such as pectin, starches and the like.
When most people think of gelatin, they immediately swerve to the sweet side (probably because of the aforementioned Bill Cosby product), but there is a whole family of savory items that greatly enjoy the benefits of gelatin. Terrines, mousses, and aspics are all very classic garde manger items, and while most home cooks have little exposure to these, they can be quite fun and interesting for entertaining guests or just putting together a unique dinner.
Since we don't have to worry about any flavor in gelatin, we can focus purely on whatever stock we're using for the terrine, and please - make sure it's strong! Heat has a side benefit of enhancing flavor, and cold the reverse, so make sure that vegetable stock is packed with flavor. Also, since gelatin is clear, use a nice, clean, strained stock, which will give you a translucent product that will show off the ingredients in the terrine perfectly. While you're showing off, make sure you have something to show – as in the video, layers and clever designs can be easily made, and are always preferable to a simple pile o' vegetables.
Oh, and one last thing – if presented with the choice of 'sheet' or 'powdered' gelatin, the choice is really up to you. There is quite a bit of ease with the powdered gelatin, and it's much easier to measure out a few teaspoons of gelatin than go about breaking whole sheets into sections. Either kind will produce the exact same result, though, so the choice is yours!
Once your realize that gelatin isn't exclusively Jell-O, you'll start to see how many ways it can help your own cooking, from giving form to a terrine to even giving a typically thin sauce a bit more body and mouth feel. Just know that when you're cooking with savory gelatine, you're kicking it old school.
1ea Yellow squash
2 Portobello mushrooms
1 Roasted Red Peppers
1 Roasted Yellow peppers
1cup Olive Oil
1/2cup Balsamic Vinegar
1ts Salt and Pepper
2pints Vegetable Stock
Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until blended.
Cut all vegetables lengthwise into 1/8-in-thick slices and add to the marinade. Toss to coat.
Line 3 baking sheets with oiled parchment and spread out the vegetables on top in a single layer.
Roast the vegetables in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
Place gelatin in cold stock and allow to bloom. About 5 minutes. Heat the gelatin over a hot water bath or in a microwave on low power to dissolve the granules.
Line a terrine mold with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang, and assemble the terrine by alternating layers of vegetables and the gelatin until the terrine is filled. Fold the plastic wrap over and smooth the top. Place in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours till gelatin sets.
To un-mold the finished terrine, invert it (in the mold, in the plastic wrap) onto a flat work surface. Hold one end of the plastic wrap onto the counter and lift the mold away with the other hand. To serve, place the wrapped terrine on a cutting board and cut into 1/2-in-thick slices, cutting through the plastic wrap. Remove the plastic wrap after the slices are arranged on plates or platters.
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