Kholodets is the most iconic Ukrainian cold dish and the king of any festive table. Its recipe is rather simple albeit quite time-consuming.
The basis for Ukrainian aspic is natural gelatin from meat, meaning you need to boil various meats (the main one being pork legs) in water for a long time to release the gelatin and then cool the broth down for hours so it turns to jelly.
Kholodets is served as an appetizer and accompanied with a traditional horseradish-and-beet relish, which beats wasabi in heat and piquancy.
In Ukraine, they say you’re not a homemaker if you cannot cook kholodets. If proving you are one is a matter of honor, here is a step-by-step recipe to impress your guests.
- 2 lb pork
- ½ lb chicken
- 2 pieces pork legs with hoof
- 1 lb chicken legs
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 4 bay leaves
- salt and pepper
How to Make Kholodets:
- Leave the meat to soak in a large pot overnight. In the morning, take it out and wash thoroughly. Peel the yellow skin off the chicken legs and wash the pork leg hooves well.
- Place the pork legs and chicken drumsticks in a large bowl.
- Cover all of the meat with water. Set over a high heat, cover, and bring to a boil.
- Drain the water and wash the meat thoroughly.
- Pour just enough water (5-6 liters) over the meat and add the bay leaves. Don’t use too much water or the broth will not become ‘wobbly’. Bring to a boil.
- Add 1 tbs of salt and reduce the heat to a light rolling simmer. Simmer for 4 hours.
- Add one carrot and one onion and cook for another hour.
- Add salt. Do not discard the broth or add more water to the pot.
- Remove the drumsticks and carrots and set the rest aside to cool.
- Discard the pigs’ legs, onion, and bay leaves. Use a fine mesh sieve lined with 3 bounty paper towels and strain the broth so it is clear. Peel and press 4 garlic cloves into the broth and add more salt if needed.
- Remove the meat, leave to cool, and then remove the meat from the bones. If properly cooked, the pork and beef should easily fall off. Remove the skin.
- Cut the meat into pieces and arrange it on plates. Slice the boiled carrots into very thin rings.
- Arrange a pork layer in a dish with high sides and spread around the carrot rings.
- Pour in enough of the hot strained broth to cover the meat. Refrigerate overnight or until firm.
- Serve with red horseradish-and-beet relish.