Kholodets or Meat Aspic is a traditional Ukrainian dish that is served with spicy horseradish and beet relish. It is made with tender meat chunks and delicious gelatinized broth.
1st boil: To a large 8 qt pot add 2 pigs feet, 1 rear hock, 2 lbs pork loin, 2 lbs of boneless beef chuck, and add enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil and let cook for 5 minutes. Next, remove the meat to a clean bowl. Discard the cooking liquid and wash the pot clean.
2nd boil: Add all the meat back to the pot, cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for about 5 hours. All throughout cooking constantly skim the top from impurities with a slotted spoon. Do not cover with a lid.
Tip: Preventing rapid boil and keeping the lid off while simmering will ensure that the broth comes out clear and not cloudy.
Keep an eye on the water level and add more if needed to keep the meat submerged at all times. If needed add a smaller sized lid or dinner plate to the top of the meat to weigh the meat down and under the water.
Add aromatics: Now add 2 onions, 2 carrots, 3 stalks celery, 15 black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, and 1 Tbsp of salt to the stock. Continue simmering for 1 more hour.
Remove solids: Remove all meat chunks from the broth to a large bowl and leave to cool to room temp.
Remove and discard the remaining vegetables (onions, carrots, and bay leaves).
Lastly, add 6-8 cloves of minced garlic and 1 bunch of parsley to the broth and simmer for 2 minutes. Taste the broth and adjust the salt amount without disturbing the broth too much as not to break any remaining impurities.
Once the meat has cooled, discard the pig's feet, any bones, fat, or skin.
Shred the meat into bite-sized pieces and add to a 9"x12" baking dish in an even layer.
To make the meat aspic in individual portions, portion the meat between deep soup bowls or other small, but deep containers.
Cover & refrigerate until ready for next step.
While the meat is cooling drain and cool the broth: set a sieve lined with 2-3 layers of paper towels over a large pot. Carefully drain the broth to remove any solids, fat, or impurities. Change the paper towels as the broth stops flowing through - the fat creates a barrier and prevents the liquid from going through.
To get an absolutely fat-free broth, you might need to drain the broth through paper towels several times. Any fat left in the broth will cover the aspic in white patches as it solidifies if not removed at this stage. For best results, cool the broth to room temperature before using it in the next steps. Otherwise pouring hot broth over the meat will melt the fat in the meat and make it float to the top.
Tip: The quickest way to cool the broth is to set the pot with the hot broth into a sink full of cold/icy water and stir it every so often until the broth cools.
Add half the broth to the meat: pour half of the cooled to room temperature broth over the meat. Skim any fat that floats to the top with a spoon. Refrigerate for about 45 minutes to slightly set. This will prevent the meat from floating to the top as you pour the other half of the broth. Keep the other half of the broth mixture at room temperature as the first half sets in the fridge.
Add the remainder of the broth: Once lightly set, remove the kholodets from the fridge and pour the remaining half of the broth over the top covering the meat completely. Add leaves of parsley for garnish if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely set, about 4-5 hours or overnight.
Once set, cut into 2x2 squares and serve alongside some beet & horseradish relish.
Combine 1 large cooked and finely grated beet with 2 1/2 Tbsp vinegar, 2 1/2 Tbsp sugar and 1 1/4 tsp salt. Lastly, add 1/2 of the horseradish sauce (3 Tbsp) and stir everything to combine. Taste and continue adding the remainder of the horseradish sauce, a little at a time until desired spiciness level is reached. Keep in mind that as the relish sits in the fridge it will lose some of the spiciness.
You can use any other kind of meat instead of pork loin and the beef chuck, equal by weight to the one listed in the recipe. Do not replace the pig's feet or the hock; they act as the gelling agent in the kholodets.
For this amount of ingredients an 8 Qt Instant pot is needed. You're welcome to halve the recipe and use a 6 qt pressure cooker.
Follow with the ingredients in the recipe (meats, aromatics & seasoning spices), but only add enough water to the pot to barely cover the meat. While cooking in the Instant Pot, the water does not evaporate like it does when cooked on the stovetop, so you do not need to add extra.
Seal the lid and cook on low pressure for 3 hours. If your Instant pot does not cook for longer than 90 minutes at a time (like some do), then restart it when the time expires and continue doing so until a total of 3 hours is reached.
Once the cooking time is complete, allow Natural Pressure Release (NPR), open the lid, skim the impurities that floated to the top, remove the meat carefully, and continue with the rest of the instructions on clarifying the broth and beyond.
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