1 kg Pork
1 kg Beef
0.5 kg rabbit meat
0.25 kg chicken
2 pieces pork legs with hoof
0.5 kg chicken legs
6 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
Kholodets (or holodets) is a traditional dish in various east and west European cuisines (Russian Ukrainian, Polish, and many others). The recipe for kholodets is very simple but quite time consuming because the natural gelatin needs to be extracted from the meat. In order to get enough gelatin, you need to use meat that contain lots of collagen, such as pork trotters, beef feet, tail, ears, or hocks, and you need to boil them in water for a very, very long time. This long and slow process will extract all the collagen from the connective tissues and break it down into gelatin. Hence, when the broth cools down, it will set into a jelly.
If you are eager to try cooking kholodets, I’ll let you in on a traditional secret for checking whether your broth is ready and will set into aspic. Simply spread a little broth across your lips and, if your lips get momentarily stuck together, your broth is now aspic! But remember, to get to this point you’ll need to cook your “meaty parts” for about 5-6 hours and then leave it to set in the fridge overnight. It’s for this reason kholodets is reserved for special occasion, especially for New Year’s Eve feast.
And because Kholodets is made with very flavorful gelatinized meat broth and tender, shredded meat and served cold, it makes a perfect appetizer. Kolodets is usually served with horseradish and the incredibly hot Russian mustard, to which the hottest wasabi does not even come close!
How to Make Holodets, Ukrainian Aspic:
- Leave the meat to soak in a large pot overnight. In the morning, take it out, wash everything. Clean the pig’s hooves well so that no hair remains. Peel the yellow skin off the chicken legs.
- In a large pot, add the pigs legs and chicken drum sticks. Add enough water to cover all of the meat. Set over high heat, cover, and bring to a boil.
- When the water has come to a boil, drain the water and wash the meat well. Then pour clean water (5-6 liters) over the meat and put on the heat. Don’t add too much water or it won’t become “gelatiney” enough.
- When the water has boiled, add 1 tablespoon of salt and reduce the heat to a light rolling simmer, not boiling, for 4 hours.
- Then, add the carrot and onion and cook for another hour. Taste and add salt if necessary. It should look like a nice chicken broth. Now, it’s important that you do not discard the broth and do not add more water to the pot! Remove the drumsticks and carrots from the broth and set aside to cool.
- Discard the pigs legs, onion, and bay leaves. Use a fine mesh sieve with 3 bounty paper towels over it and filter the broth. This will leave you with a clean broth. Peel and press 4 garlic cloves into the broth and check to see if more salt is needed.
- Remove the meat from the broth and, once it has cooled, take the meat off the bones. Properly cooked, the pork and beef should easily fall off the bone. Remove the skin from the meat. Cut the meat into pieces and arrange it on plates. Cut the boiled carrots into rings 0.5 cm thick.
- Put a layer of pork into a deep dish or other receptacle with high sides, then spread around the carrot rings. Pour in enough of the hot strained broth to cover the meat and a little extra over the top. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight, or until firm.
Serve with red horseradish or Russian mustard.