From CHEZ JIM Books:
An EIGHTEENTH CENTURY VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK:
APRES MOI LE DESSERT - VOLUME II
and a history of the CROISSANT:
AUGUST ZANG AND THE FRENCH CROISSANT
18th CENTURY RECIPE: Meat jelly
Last week I mentioned that the earliest mayonnaise was made with jelly
rather than eggs. Meat jelly appeared in various guises in Old Regime France. It
was a food for the sick, but also could be colored and flavored to serve as a
treat during a normal meal. Numerous recipes existed for meat and fish jelly,
without even considering fruit jellies, also popular, but a separate subject.
La Varenne's (from Le Cuisinier Francois, 1680), is one of the longer ones
(and not the only one in his book), and gives some idea how serious an
undertaking this could be:
To make a whole jelly take a capon or other very fresh fowl ready for the
pot, also take a veal shank, or another two or two and a half pounds of a
rouelle [thick slice across the leg] or a shoulder of veal, to make the jelly
clear; one can also add a piece of mutton, for example, three quarter pounds of
neck or a bloody end or some leg, or from some other lean part; & even when
one has no veal, one must put mutton instead of veal.
Note that one can make jelly with all sorts of meat, and the fresher the
better: remove the fat from the meat and wash it in cool water, remove the blood
if there is any, and anything that is in the belly of poultry, the lungs and
the liver: then put the meat in nearly boiling water, with salt about the
weight of one or two gold crowns [i.e., large coins] and when they have soaked
a while, in order to take on a salty taste, one can boil it a little, then
take it out of the water and put it in a large earthen pot, glazed, very clean.
Add six or seven pints of water, and put the pot on the fire.
If the meat has not been scalded by the salted water, one must put in the
pot the weight of a gold crown or only half a crown of salt, and skim the
bouillon well: sometimes one does not salt jelly at all.
To make a very strong jelly, add a veal foot with the meat, or the bone of a
shoulder of veal or mutton, or two ounces of elk horn, grated and enclosed
in a cloth. Put lit coal all around the pot, skin it very carefully, then
cover it and not before, let the meat cook, until it easily comes off the bones,
put in a little hot water a bit after it has been skimmed, and do not wait
When the bouillon is half consumed, and only about three pints remain, let a
little cool in a ladle and if it stays as thick as syrup, or hardens in the
spoon it will be time to pour into the pot a chopine [465.7 milliliters)] or
only four pints of white wine or verjuice, or the two together by half, then
bring the pot to a boil for about a quarter of an hour: and if in cooling it
begins to gel, it will be time to strain it through a white napkin without
pressing the meat, then let it cool by half, or until the grease comes to the
top, and becomes like a skin, and then it will be necessary to strain through
a clean napkin to degrease it completely: when one is in a hurry to make
jelly, one can pour the bouillon through a moistened towel, while it is still
The bouillon being well-skimmed, put it back in the well-cleaned pot, then
beat in a dish the white and shells of six fresh eggs, and when these have
been reduced to a foam, pour them into the jelly when it starts to boil, then
add sugar broken into lumps, a quarter pound by pint of bouillon is enough. But
one can put in a little less if one puts no wine in the jelly, because it is
milder than that in which there is some, also put in the pot a sixteenth of
an ounce of cinnamon, more or less according to the taste of the sick person,
and add the juice of a lemon, or a little verjuice, or some drops of vinegar.
When all these things are together, one must mix and stir them while the egg
whites are cooked, add a little broth in a spoon, and if it looks done, that
is, clear, and as if there was filth in it, take the pot off the fire, and
strain it hot through a white napkin, or through a stocking of felt or another
white, very clear cloth. If what flows out at first seems suspect, strain it
again, strain it near the fire, keeping the pot on the hot coals, so that
the jelly flows more easily, .. and stir the jelly in pots or bowls of
earthenware or other matter, then put them in a cool place, so that the jelly 'takes'
more easily. When it is necesary to add a few other things to a jelly, for
example lemon juice, put them in at the same time as the wine, but you will
notice that the jelly does not stay at its best for more than two days if there
is lemon juice, or anything else sour.
If you do not need a whole jelly, you an make a half or even a quarter of
jelly, only put in meat in proportion to what you want to make of jelly.
La Varenne (26-30)