Ukrainian Aspic Recipe (Kholodets)

Want to impress your parents with the Ukrainian Aspic recipe? LOL

My husband made this aspic or holodets recipe; mostly because I wouldn’t go near pigs feat with a 10 foot pole. That’s what Ukrainian people use to make the gelatin firm; pigs feet. I fought him hard on this recipe, but he insisted. He secretly purchased the ingredients and I rolled my eyes when I saw them in the freezer. He wasn’t going to let me stop him.

Before you turn up your nose and run off, here are some fun facts I learned about Aspics (kholodets) from Wikipedia:

* Meat Aspics came before Jello (I guess that means we owe aspics a debt of gratitude)
* Cooks used to show off their creativity and skills with inventive aspics (you can too!) lol
* Aspics became popular in the US and were a dinner staple in the 1950’s (now on the verge of extinction in the US, but not in Ukraine).
* Ukrainian people refer to Aspic as Holodets.

You know, in the end, I’m glad my husband made this. It preserves the recipe and helps us remember our roots. (I wasn’t kidding when I said Ukrainian food can be bizarre). This tasted exactly like the one my Mom made years ago. We brought this to my parents house on Sunday and they were so impressed; even my sister ate it and had seconds! Thanks honey for being persistent. I’m just floored that you actually made Holodets. That’s right ladies; my man made holodets. And, he works out. 😉

Ingredients for Aspic/Holodets:

2 lb pork legs, soaked in cold water and refrigerated 3 hours to overnight
5-8 large chicken drumsticks (or any meat with the bone in)
2 medium onions
1 large carrot
1 stick of celery
2 bay leaves
5-10 peppercorns
2 tsp salt + more to taste
Red Horseradish sause/Hren or Russian mustard to serve

Kholodets (1)

How to make Aspic – Kholodets:

1. Make sure you soak the pork legs in cold water (we put them in the fridge overnight which is also a good way to thaw them if you want to make it the next day).

2. In a large pot, Add pork legs, and chicken drum sticks. Add enough water to cover all of the meat. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling, remove from heat and drain off the water.

Kholodets (2)

Rinse the meat, refill with fresh water (enough water to cover all of the meat, plus an extra 1/2-inch over the meat); Don’t add too much water or it won’t be “gelatiney” enough later.

Kholodets (3)

Cover and bring to a boil again.Reduce heat to a light boil/simmer and set a timer for 5 hours :-O. (I have a much greater appreciation for my mom’s efforts in making holodets after watching my husband make this).

Kholodets (4)

3. After cooking for 5 hours, Add 1 large carrot, 2 medium onions (both ends removed), 1 celery stick, 2 bay leaves, 5-8 peppercorns and 2 tsp salt into the pot and continue boiling  on low heat 1 more hour. It should start to look like a nice chicken broth. Now it’s important that you keep the broth (do not discard the broth!) and do not add more water.

Kholodets (5)

4. Remove the drumsticks and carrot from the broth and let them cool. Discard pork legs, onion and bay leaves. Use a fine mesh sieve with 3 bounty paper towels in the colander and filter the broth through the paper towels. You will be left with a clean broth.

5. Peel and press 4 garlic cloves into the broth and do a taste test to see if more salt is needed.

6. Once the meat has cooled, use a fork to separate meat from the bones. Keep the good meat; discard the rest. Thinly slice the carrot. You can make one big holodets in a rectangular pyrex dish or you can make smaller bowls.

7. Start by placing carrots on the bottom and top with some dill if you wish. Next add the meat in an even layer and pour broth over the meat. You need enough broth to cover the meat and add a little extra over the top. Refrigerate 3 hours to overnight or until firm. Serve with red horseradish/hren or Russian mustard. Once it’s set, set the bowl in hot water for a few seconds, then use a slim spatula to release the gelatin from the dish.

Note:

If using varying types or amounts of meat/bones, reader Lena shared a great tip: “An easy way to find out if your liquid is going to freeze or if you need to add gelatin, is to put a table spoon of it into a bowl and put it in the fridge. If it stiffens then you’re safe, but if not, then to add gelatin.”

Ukrainian Aspic Recipe (Kholodets)

4.6 from 22 reviews
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Author:
Skill Level: Medium
Cost To Make: $9-$11
Serving: 8-12

Ingredients

  • 2 lb pork legs, soaked in cold water and refrigerated 3 hours to overnight
  • 5-8 large chicken drumsticks (or any meat with the bone in)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5-10 peppercorns
  • 2 tsp salt + more to taste
  • Red horseradish/hren sause or mustard to serve

Instructions

  1. Make sure you soak the pork legs in cold wate (3 hours to overnight - it's also a good way to thaw the pork)
  2. In a large pot, add pork legs, and chicken drum sticks. Add enough water to cover all of the meat. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling, remove from heat and drain off the water. Rinse the meat, refill with fresh water (enough water to cover all of the meat, plus an extra ½-inch over the meat); Don't add too much water or it won't be "gelatiney" enough later. Cover and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to a light boil/simmer and set a timer for 5 hours.
  3. After cooking for 5 hours, Add 1 large carrot, 2 medium onions (both ends removed), 1 celery stick, 2 bay leaves, 5-8 peppercorns and 2 tsp salt into the pot and continue boiling on low heat 1 more hour. 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!
  4. Remove the drumsticks and carrot from the broth and let them cool. Discard pork legs, onion and bay leaves. Use a fine mesh sieve with 3 bounty paper towels over the sieve and filter the broth through the paper towels. You will be left with a clean broth.
  5. Peel and press 4 garlic cloves into the broth and do a taste test to see if more salt is needed.
  6. Once the meat has cooled, use a fork to separate meat from the bones. Keep the good meat; discard the bones. Thinly slice the carrot. You can make one big holodets in a rectangular pyrex dish or you can make smaller serving bowls.
  7. Start by placing carrots on the bottom and top with some dill if you wish. Next add the meat in an even layer and pour broth over the meat; enough to cover the meat and a little extra over the top. Refrigerate 3 hours to overnight, or until firm. Serve with red horseradish/hren (recipe on NatashasKitchen.com) or Russian mustard. Once it's set, set the bowl in hot water for a few seconds, then use a slim spatula to release the gelatin from the dish. Or you can just serve it out of the dish and save yourself a step.

 

If you are still reading this, do you do anything fancy with your aspics (holodets)? Do you even make aspics??

Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • SALLY KORNEYCHU
    March 12, 2017

    I love this recipe, I’ve never used chicken tho’, my mom always used beef shank with the feet. Sometimes when I couldn’t find beef shank, I used beef stew meat….never thought of chicken.
    I was also wondering if you know if I can freeze this. Always make too much….lol

    I love your page….anytime I google something, your page is always there <3 Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 13, 2017

      Hi Sally, That’s awesome that my page comes up on Google for you. I’m so happy to hear that! I’m not sure if this would freeze well being a gelatin. my guess is that it’s not freezer friendly. I don’t recall my Mom ever freezing it either. It does refrigerate really well though – the gelatin and thin film of fat that forms over the top when it firms up, helps protect it from spoiling. I hope that helps! 🙂 Reply

  • Andrew
    January 1, 2017

    Hi Natasha,
    i made this dish yesterday, but i didnt use pork, just chicken thighs bone-in, i cooked longer about 6 and half hrs. the broth did solidify but not very firm. do you have any recommendations ?
    thanks Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 1, 2017

      Hi Andrew, I think the bone-in chicken thighs don’t provide enough gelatin for the recipe without a little help from something else, this is why I add the pork. One of my readers reported using only bone-in-chicken thighs but he also added: “I also used Agar powder (1/2 tsp per cup of liquid)” I hope that helps for next time! Reply

    • roman bondaruk
      January 1, 2017

      My mum always says that if the bones you are using to do your thing are not going to provide the natural gelatine then don’t be afraid to use gelatine from other sources…nothing much worse than loose kholodets.
      cheers, Roman Reply

      • Natasha
        natashaskitchen
        January 2, 2017

        Thanks Roman! 🙂 Reply

  • Lena
    November 24, 2016

    Hi Natasha, thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!!
    My mom had a small tip, from her past experiences, that I thought was helpful. She said an easy way to find out if your liquid is going to freeze or if you need to add gelatin, is to put a table spoon of it into a bowl and put it in the fridge. If it stiffens then you’re safe, but if not, then to add gelatin. This might be common sense to others already, but to me (lol) I found out mine didn’t stiffen on the next day! Oops🙊 So I redid it:-) Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 24, 2016

      That is really a wonderful tip and thank you so much for sharing that with us. I’ll leave your tip in the recipe above. Have an awesome Thanksgiving!! 🙂 Reply

  • MARCIA ENTZEL
    August 4, 2016

    Oops–i’ts me again,
    Instead of the bay leaves and other spices, we just use a small scoop of pickling spice placed in a stainless-steel tea ball. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      August 4, 2016

      I will have to try that! Thank you for sharing 🙂 Reply

  • MARCIA ENTZEL
    August 4, 2016

    Hi Natasha,
    Your comments could have been written by me–but my hubby is German.
    I too nearly gagged when I saw the pork feet –and after cleaning them,cooking them, they were discarded.Rather than using chicken, we purchase UNSMOKED (fresh) from our local supermarket.These are a specialty item that they order for us.
    I’m going to try your recipe,though, and my husband’s family serves them with a small amount of apple cider vinegar splashed over them.
    Thank you for a great site–I’ll definitely be back! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      August 4, 2016

      Ha ha, I hope you all enjoy the aspic! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your tip about the cider vinegar. That sounds great! Reply

  • Olga
    June 2, 2016

    Natasha,

    went to check on the pork legs and found the halves. I bet I can find the whole legs but do you know if there’s a difference between the two? Which ones will do better? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      June 2, 2016

      Hi Olga, I’m not sure what you mean by the halves so I don’t know. As long as they aren’t boneless, they should work. I’ve even had readers report that this worked with bone-in chicken. Reply

  • Julia
    April 29, 2016

    Hello, I live in San Francisco. Who knows where can I buy pork legs here?
    Thanks! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 29, 2016

      I’ve never done any grocery shopping there. I would suggest calling your local grocery stores and maybe your local butcher to see if they carry them, that way you aren’t running all over town looking for it. Maybe someone else might know?… Reply

    • Katia
      January 5, 2017

      Asian markets! Go to clement street, especially out in the Avenues. My mom gets them there. Also, try the russian stores on Geary or on La Playa. Reply

Read more comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

Leave a comment

Rate this recipe:  

As Featured On

Never Go "Hangry" Again!

Get weekly updates on new recipes, exclusive giveaways plus behind the scenes photos.