Guirlande de Suprêmes en Gelée

EVP-POSTE2In the introduction for this dish, Price tells us at the Hostellerie de la Poste they make it with quail, and garnish the dish with their heads, which Price sort of brushes off and claims he’d  “. . . sooner have it without the heads.”  Oh come on—you were in House of Wax and The Tingler. You put quail heads on everything.

This is the first truly complicated dish in the Treasury of Great Recipes. It covers an entire page, uses exceptional ingredients, requires you to make aspic and force meat and build an aspic ring top down in a mold.

It’s also one of the recipes where Price changes the ingredients and gives us a window into mid 20th century America where getting fresh quail may not have been as easy as trolling though the frozen poultry section at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

In Florida, where I grew up, we had Bobwhite quail. You could hear them in the morning, and their call really did sound like they were calling out “Bob White!?” incredulously, like they ran into him walking down the street and couldn’t believe it.

They were delicious.

My grandfather raised quail for a little while to sell to local bird dog trainers. He had a small green house with about 30 bobwhites and every morning it was a chorus of hailing, which woke up the dog (he had a blue tick hound named Champ) and pretty much everyone else in the neighborhood.

In Guirlande de Suprêmes en Gelée, Price swaps the quail for chicken breasts. I’m going to deliver the recipe as is but I strongly urge you to use quail instead. And if you get them whole, roast the heads a little and use them as a garnish. If you use quail, swap the cheesecloth for twine when you braise them.

Finally, its the first recipe in which there is a mistake, albeit a tiny one. In the steps for making the aspic, Price tells us to “Gradually beat in the cool chicken stock.” But the chicken stock has not been mentioned previously and I have no idea how much to beat in. Since it is supposed to end up as a quart, I guess I’ll have to add it in slowly and eyeball the damn thing.

Guirlande de Suprêmes en Gelée

Ingredients

    The chicken breasts
  • 3 whole chicken breasts, bone in (or 6 quail)
  • 6 tablespoons cognac
  • 6 tablespoons Madeira
  • Chicken forcemeat
  • 1 cup raw chicken meat
  • 2 tablespoons foie gras
  • 1 small truffle, diced
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • Aspic
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 envelopes plain gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cracked ice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dash of Madeira
  • 6 slices foie gras
  • 6 slices truffle
  • 6 slices boiled ham
  • Presentation
  • Watercress (and quail heads) for garnish
  • Apple and Truffle Salad
  • 1 apple peeled and diced
  • 1 large truffle, thinly sliced
  • 1 heart romaine lettuce, shredded
  • salt
  • pepper
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • Cool chicken stock (unknown quantity)

Instructions

    Chicken Breasts
  1. Bone and skin the chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise. Remove the small muscle on the underside of each and set aside. Place each half between wax paper and pound them thing with a mallet or the back of knife. Trim each into a neat triangle, reserving the trimmings. Put into a ceramic dish with Madeira and cognac and marinate for three hours. Cut all the trimmings and muscles into small pieces and measure one cup to make forcemeat.
  2. Forcemeat
  3. In a food processor (Price says use a blender) mix the raw chicken, 2 table spoons foie gras, diced truffle, egg white, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Add heavy cream and blend for 20 seconds or until the cream is blended into the meat.
  5. Drain the chicken breasts, reserving the marinade. Spread each breast (or stuff each quail) with a layer of the forcemeat. Roll them up "like jelly rolls" and tie inside cheese cloth, tightly. Arrange in a skillet, add the marinade and enough chicken stock to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Strain cooking liquid into a saucepan and add enough chicken stock to measure a quart. Cool. Cover breasts (quail) and chill.
  6. Aspic
  7. In a saucepan, beat egg whites, gelatin, and ice until the egg whites are frothy. Gradually beat in the cool chicken stock. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Check the flavor and correct with salt and pepper and a dash of Madeira. Strain through s sieve lined with cheesecloth. Cool to room temperature. This makes 1 quart of aspic.
  8. Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the cool, but still iquid, aspic into a 6 cup ring mold, and chill until aspic is set. Arrange foie gras slices with truffl in the center around the center of the mold (remember, you are working upside down so put the truffle down first, then the foie) then cover with a thin layer of aspic. Chill again. Place a cooked chicken breast (yeah, take it out of the cheesecloth) on each slice of foie. Add liquid to half the height of the chicken breasts and chill. Add liquid to just cover the breasts.
  9. Cut the ham into 2 inch rounds. Overlap them all around the mold (you're building the floor of the dish). Add aspic to fill the mold. Chill.
  10. Presentation
  11. When ready to serve, unmold onto a cold serving plate. Garnish with watercress (or quail heads) and fill the center with apple and truffle salad.
  12. Apple and truffle salad
  13. Combone apple, truffle, lettuce, salt, pepper and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Mix sour cream and cream, pour over salad and toss lightly.
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Bull Garlington is an award-winning author and columnist from Chicago. His newest book is The Full English, a humorous travel memoir.