Rooster kholodets (Ukrainian meat aspic)

Do you want to try something authentic? Then try kholodets, a traditional Slavic treat, loved by many Ukrainians and served at family gatherings. This cold snack represents a broth cooked using meat which is then refrigerated until jellified. The meat aspic takes the shape of the basin where it is chilled, and cut into serving pieces that are usually several inches high.  Traditionally, the gelling agent was made by cooking pork feet, which naturally have gelatin and release it after many hours of boiling. Meanwhile, I want to share a recipe that is a bit easier and quicker and does not require 5-7 hours of meat boiling. We will add gelatin and this allows us to use any kind of meat. So if you’re not the fan of pork, this recipe is just for you!

A lot of Ukrainians remember eating this kholodets from their childhood. For many of them the meat jelly was a must-have for holiday celebrations. Nowadays, many Ukrainian women have their own versions of aspic, with different types of poultry or meat, or their combination. And today we are going to cook kholodets using a rooster.

Even though the preparation of this dish is rather time-consuming, don’t be afraid to try it. Firstly, your stove and fridge will do most of the work. Secondly, the result is more than worth your efforts.

Let’s face it, meat aspic may sound somehow weird for you. A lot of people who are not used to eating this dish are usually freaked out. But in fact, it’s simply a broth poured over chopped meat and then cooled until set. And, when served with mustard or horseradish, this dish becomes even more piquant and appetizing.

Ingredients:

  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 bulb onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 25 g (0,8 oz) of gelatin
  • 600-700 g (21-25 oz) rooster
  • black peppercorns – to taste
  • black ground pepper – to taste
  • salt – to taste
  • mustard/red horseradish (for serving)

Decoration

  • 3 carrots
  • 4 tbsp green peas
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh parsley

Cooking

Wash rooster thighs, wings, and fillet under running water. Soak meat in water for 4 hours.

Pour water in a deep pan and bring it to boil. Transfer the meat pieces there. Season the broth with salt and pepper to your taste. Add bay leaves, washed carrots and bulb onions (do not peel the onions). The meat should be covered with water by about 2 inches.

Simmer the rooster until it becomes tender, for about 3 hours, stirring the broth continuously and skimming off the foam. Transfer the cooked meat to a plate and let it cool.

Line a fine mesh sieve with several layers of paper towels and filter the broth. The paper towels will catch the fat and as a result you’ll get a clean broth. Let it cool.

Cut the cooled meat finely. Adjust salt and black ground pepper, and add squeezed garlic.

Take away 100 ml of broth from the rest of the broth and pour to a separate little saucepan. Add gelatin and dissolve it over low heat. Add the warm gelatin mixture to the rest of the broth. Stir to combine.

Spread the boiled meat on the bottom of serving dishes (filling 2/3 each of them) and carefully pour broth over the meat, making sure it is completely submerged. Then add some extra broth over the top.

Peel carrots and cut them in the form of stars. Rinse fresh parsley. Add the carrot, parsley, and green peas for decoration.

Put the dishes in a fridge and let the meat jelly set for about 6 hours.

Kholodets is served chilled with a generous helping of red strong horseradish (khrin) or hot mustard. This dish is widely used as an appetizer, especially for Ukrainian vodka.

Have you liked the recipe for rooster jelly?

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