Recipe of the week: Hungarian ‘kocsonya’ or aspic
The aspic is a traditional cold food found in the kitchen of almost all European countries in some form. Usually, it is either a side dish or an appetizer, but we Hungarians eat it as a main dish, usually in winter, around the holidays, such as Christmas or New Year’s Eve. It is also interesting that every family has its own little tradition on how they make it. Some people use the most traditional recipe: they put pork feet or nails, pork skin and other soft parts of the pork into it, while others put lean meat into it before it jellifies.
You would not think, but the ‘kocsonya’ has some health benefits as well. The fats in the dish are rich in amino acids and the high lysine content can strengthen the immune system. It is also good for your skin and nails, because thanks to its C-vitamin content, it helps the absorption and production of collagen.
These ingredients are for 10 servings but do not worry, it is easier to make it more delicious if you make a large batch. And it will disappear in no time because it is that delicious.
5 litres of water, 400 grams of pig trotters (approx. 3 pieces, or the same amount of pig ears or tail), 300 grams of pigskin, 700 grams of pork leg, 500 grams of thin pork thigh, 200 grams of smoked pork shoulder, salt to liking, 2 coffee spoons of whole peppers, 2 pieces of medium cherry pepper, 1 deciliter of tomato juice, 2 medium garlics (taken apart to cloves), 1 boiled egg for decorating
We take the first seven ingredients and slowly bring them to boil, take off the froth (foam) with a strainer. After this, put in the whole peppers, the cherry peppers, the tomato juice and the cloves of garlic.
Lower the heat and simmer slowly just so that the water beads (like with a meat soup), for 4-5 hours.
Strain the broth and put the meat aside to cool off. Divide the meat into bowls so that each has every type of meat in them, do not forget to debone them before doing so. Of course, if you do not like the soft meat or skin, you can omit them and only put the lean meat into the bowls, but they were needed because of the gelatine. You can also put a slice of boiled egg on top for decoration.
If you divided the meat according to your liking, then slowly pour the broth into the bowls. If there is a lot of fat on the broth, you should skim it off with a spoon. This way the aspic will be clearer, and it would taste less fatty.
The only thing to do now is to rest it somewhere overnight, where it is around 4-5 °C. This can be your fridge, or you can also put it on the windowsill if you make it during winter. But beware of the cats.
We used the recipe of PeZsuRi from Nosalty.
According to a story in Miskolc, an inattentive waitress of the Magyar Huszár (Hungarian Hussar), Potyka Kati, when one of her costumers asked for an aspic, went down to the cellar in order to bring the costumer his meal. She brought the plate but did not notice that there was a frog in it. The costumer was stunned by the sight of a frog blinking back at him. This could have happened because before refrigerators they used the basement to keep cold things there. The frog might have crawled into the bowl and then stuck there when the fluid jellified.
Whether it is true or not, it makes an interesting story, and it gave birth to a festival since; the Miskolci Kocsonyafesztivál (Aspic festival of Miskolc). They make bowls decorated with frogs and some people even dress up as frogs.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Daily News Hungary