I consider myself to be pretty open-minded when it comes to food. How about some heart, liver, brain or tongue? Let’s dig in. Perhaps a little gizzard, cockle, tripe, ear, snout, tendon and blood sausage? Sounds good. Frog legs, escargot, fermented duck egg? Sure, why not. I’ve eaten all these things and liked most of them. So it came as a surprise to Anita, my culinary angel of a wife, that kocsonya was a no go. I’ve tried and tried, but I just can’t.
If you’re unfamiliar with this Hungarian delicacy, let me break it down: kocsonya (ko-choan-yuh) or aspic as it’s known in English, is a broth made from pig trotters, ears, tails and various meaty bits which is then chilled into solid gelatin and eaten cold. It’s prepared in myriad ways but typically you’ll find carrots, garlic and meat/fat/skin suspended in the jelly. What’s in kocsonya doesn’t bother me—it’s the texture and mouth feel that does. Blame it on a childhood of eating sweet JELL-O. I suppose we could blame Bill Cosby too, while we’re at it.
Recently, my father-in-law was gobbling up a bowl of kocsonya.
“You’re not having any?” he asked.
“No,” I said. “I don’t like that it’s cold.”
“Well put it in the microwave then!” he chuckled.
Not a bad idea, I thought.
Miskolc Kocsonya Festival
Every winter Miskolcians celebrate their love of jiggly molds with the Miskolc Kocsonya Festival. I wrote a blog post about last year’s event. You can read it here.
The 4 day event is a actually a blast; it’s not only about kocsonya. There are plenty of concerts, delicious non-gelatinized foods and hot mulled wine to keep you warm. And pálinka of course. What’s a festival without pálinka?
For info on the 2016 Miskolc Kocsonya Festival visit the official site (Hungarian only).
With the 2016 festival just a few weeks away, I thought I’d share my wife’s kocsonya recipe. Just in case anyone wants to participate at home, of course. Who knows? You might love it … Maybe.
Ingredients: serves about 10
- 2 pig trotters
- 3 pig ears
- 3 pig tails
- 1-2 lb of pork shoulder with skin and fat on
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 1 lb smoked ham
- 4-5 onion with peel on
- ~20 cloves of garlic
- very little salt because the smoked meat is salty and salt blocks the formation of gelatin
- 4-6 carrots
- 3 parsnips
- half handful of whole peppercorns
- 1 yellow Hungarian pepper
- Wash & clean all the meat and pig parts.
- Cut the trotters down the middle but not all the way through.
- Place all the piggy parts and meat in a large pot and cover with water.
- Add the peppercorns, garlic cloves, onions & whole yellow pepper to the pot.
- Bring to a boil & then simmer for 5-6 hours until meat is tender. Skim fat off the top as it boils up.
- Top up water as needed. Water will evaporate during cooking.
- Boil the carrots and parsnips in a separate pot.
- Remove meat from the pot and discard bones or any other undesired parts.
- Portion out the meat/skin into bit size pieces and place in individual bowls.
- Slice the cooked vegetables and add them to the bowls.
- Once the broth has cooled off, strain through a cheese cloth and strainer (the cleaner the broth, the better).
- Now fill each individual bowl with the broth, covering the portioned meat and vegetables. Add sliced boiled eggs if desired.
- Place bowls in the fridge for a few hours or overnight until the broth solidifies.
Serve the kocsonya with bread, a lemon wedge and paprika.