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17.1.13

HUNGARIAN PORK JELLY – KOCSONYA


 
The last time I made pork jelly was back in 1968. It was the first New Years Day I spent in Canada. I haven’t kept up with this tradition, because even though Jim was amazed with my pork jelly making abilities, he didn’t really like the “chilly soup”. After more than 45 years of togetherness he didn’t feel the same obligation and the “Would it be at all possible to heat this up just a little bit” translated into warming up his carefully arranged and fully gelled kocsonya in the microwave!!! Apparently the pork jelly tastes delicious piping hot. So even though I love kocsonya I am not sure when I will make it again.
 
I remember Hungarian bistros selling the same pork jelly in salads, over sandwiches, and of course one of my all time favourites, kaszinótojás used to be covered with a thin layer of pork jelly too. But this is different. This jelly is not an appetizer or a garnish. Eaten with a chunk of rustic bread this was the New Years meal of my childhood. On New Years Eve my grandmother used to line up the soup plates with the stock by the kitchen window and left the window open a crack so the stock could gel. Some people got fancy with it; they put all sorts of decorations inside the jelly, from onion slices to hard boiled egg slices. I have even seen slices of dill pickles “floating” in the jelly. I kept to the basics and decorated my jelly with what I cooked in the stock. People make pork jelly from pork feet, ears, tongue, pork rinds and tenderloin. I used a good sized pork hock and a chunk of tenderloin for mine and as you can see mine jelled perfectly. It is not necessary to cook vegetables in the stock, but I like them in mine. The basic requirement is pork meat, bone and rind and of course lots of garlic. Pork jelly is not a lot of work; it just takes a long time to cook. Slowly simmer it for a whole day and then eat it on the next. Do NOT cover the pot; the liquid has to reduce to about 1/4 of the original amount. People who complain about not gelling reduce the stock only part of the way. I started out with 16 cups of cold water and ended up with 4 cups of clear stock. As you can see mine gelled very well. In retrospect, I regret adding the paprika to the stock; because you cannot really see how clear my pork jelly was as most of the paprika sank to the bottom. I just dumped in the paprika when I remembered my grandmother sprinkling paprika on top of the finished pork jelly. Ah well…To keep the stock clear, you must simmer the stock ever so slowly; a little faster than erőleves, but it must not come to full boil at any time, because boiling makes the stock cloudy and unappetizing. I made 6 servings of kocsonya.
 
The first day we ate it with rustic homemade bread. The second day we had it with Eva’s naan. The Hungarian kocsonya and the East Indian naan went so well together it was as if they were made to compliment.
 
2 lb pork hock
250 g pork tenderloin
2 carrots
2 parsnips
1 large onion cut into halves
6 cloves of garlic
1 tsp pepper corn
sprinkling of chilli pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
salt [very sparingly]
16 cups cold water
Hungarian paprika for sprinkling

• Clean and wash meat products and wash and peel the vegetables.
• Set aside 2 cloves of garlic for use later and place the rest of the ingredients in a stockpot.
• Add salt, but sparingly. Remember you are starting with 16 cups of liquid, but in the end the salt that you add now will be concentrated into 4 cups of liquid.
• Add the cold water and bring it to a simmer.
• Do not let the soup come to full rolling boil, this makes the stock cloudy. Also, it is the rapid boiling that brings up foam to the surface and with slow simmer this will not be an issue.
• Maintaining a slow simmer, cook the soup uncovered for 10 hours.
• After ten hours the stock has reduced considerably.
• Take the pot off the heat and let it cool down somewhat.
• Take out the pork hock and place it in a bowl to cool.
• Take out the carrots and the tenderloin and set it aside to cool.
• Pour the remainder vegetables with the stock through a fine sieve catching the stock in a container. Do not press down on the remaining vegetables; this would make the stock cloudy. At this point you will have about 6-7 cups of stock.
• After everything cools down to room temperature cover the pork hock and the vegetables that you set aside and place it in the fridge for the night.
• Cover the stock and place it in the fridge.
• The following day, cut the hock into smaller pieces and place them in a clean stock pot.
• Dice the 2 cloves of garlic you set aside and add to the pot.
• Take out the stock and you will see it has jelled, but not enough. Remove the fat layer and discard.
• Add the stock to the pot and bring it to a slow simmer again.
• Let the stock simmer for 2 hours longer.
• After 2 hours of slow simmer you will have 4 cups of stock left.
• Adjust the salt content. But be careful not to over-salt, because you cannot add more water to the stock.
• Remove the hock pieces and either discard or cut out the meaty bits for consumption. [I didn’t keep it.]
• Place a large fine sieve over a bowl and line it with a clean, wet muslin.
• Pour the hot stock through the lined sieve.
• Your stock is the bowl, clear and wonderful. This is when I added 1 tsp of Hungarian paprika to the stock, but this was a mistake.
• Next is setting up the plates for the jelly. If you don’t have Hungarian soup bowls, pasta bowls are the best for serving the pork jelly.
• Remember the tenderloin and the carrots you put in the fridge last night? Take them out and slice them neatly and arrange them in the bottom of 4 to 6 soup plates. Ladle the hot stock over them carefully, not to disturb the meat slices or the carrots.
• Let everything cool down to room temperature and then carefully transfer the plates to the fridge and let them chill for 2-4 hours.
• Just before serving sprinkle authentic Hungarian paprika on the top and serve the pork jelly with a chunk of rustic bread.
 
 
 

10 comments:

  1. Zsuzsa, Indian naan and Hungarian pork jelly sounds even crazier than my Koreanised Székely Gulyàs!
    Personally I love pork jelly: in Poland it's made with pork hock, which is simmered with quite a lot of pepper and herbs (in Poland pork is always cooked with many spices) and then the meat (not skin!) is shredded with a bit of carrots and then covered with the stock which becomes a jelly. The fat which forms on top is removed and the jelly is served with pure vinegar: heaven in mouth!, as Poles say.
    I am once more pleasantly surprised to see one more similar dish from Hungary...

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  2. Hahaha how right you are Sissi! Break down the barriers and eat multiculturally. No? You mentioning the vinegar reminded me that some people squeeze lemon juice over kocsonya instead of sprinkling it with paprika. Now that is close! I am planning to make another poppy seed cake; it was chosen as the country's cake in Hungary last year. Wish me luck with it. I am wondering if it will come even close to your birthday cake. We keep talking about your cake. Once I make the cakes I want for my blog I can start on repeats. Your cake will be among the first ones I will make again. It is one of the best on my list.

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  3. My parents made this dish several times over the years (sometimes it didn't gel as well as at other times) and usually some meat was included in the bowls. Not something my brother and I ever appreciated though if it had looked as clear and golden as yours, we might have thought about it. :)

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  4. My Mom didn't put vegetables in her's as I recall, and we squeezed fresh lemon juice on it. Oh, the wonderful memories this post just brought back, thank you. And again, thank you for the shout out. Now I really wish we lived closer to one another so I could come over and help you consume your kocsonya because I like mine jellied and cold too. I used to love the really chewy bits of meat — this is something Sissi would love, I think.
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com

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  5. Although Kocsonya was a 'childhood' memory of mine; I do remember eating only the jelled portion of this traditional dish. I don't remember it looking so pretty and rosy like yours. Not one of my 'top of the list' thing to make, but would love to taste yours!

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  6. It is interesting that most of us preferred the jelled portion. Kocsonya was never high on my agenda either, but I was compelled to acknowledge it as a new year’s custom, which will surely disappear with the McDonald's generation outside of Hungary.

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  7. We ate this every winter when I was a child (over 35 yrs ago!). My mother came to Canada in 1969 and this was always prepared for New Year's, and often in the late winter as well. My father preferred it with lemon juice, while my mother and I would eat it with a thick layer of horseradish on top. And fresh light rye bread. Yum! I'm thinking of making this for my husband (Scottish background). They eat Haggis, so he's likely to be okay eating jellied pork hocks.

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    Replies
    1. I never tasted haggis. Is it similar to Hungarian hurka? If it is, I would like it.

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  8. Hi Zsuzsa,
    Happy New Year- hope you are well.I simply adore your site!
    I made my kocsonya last week- but I simplify the process.I just cook it all in the pressure cooker for one hour.Sure, the broth isn't as clear, but the taste is wonderful.My husband loves it.My sweet Nagy advised trying it with smoked pork hocks, her favorite way..

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  9. Time for kocsonya time. The gelatin is good for us nutritionally. I bought some pig feet, pig ears and a hock as well. I think I'll add the carrots nearer the end of cooking so they won't get cooked to death. I don't care about the parsley roots if they get demolished. True about hard boiled eggs though. My mother would sometimes put slices on the bottom of the bowl before filling up with the rest of the ingredients. The thing I despised was the 'five o' clock shadow' bristly bits of pig skin. Yuk. A little attention to details is a good thing. My father made the kocsonya. He wasn't sufficiently detail oriented.

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