In Hungary pork jelly or kocsonya is known as a main dish, usually cooked during the carnival season. As a Hungarian journalist said, kocsonya is “the etheral essence of pork”. It’s not far from the truth since kocsonya is a rich, solid broth containing soft pork meat. We use skinned, gristly and bony parts that are simmered for several hours in order to have enough dissolved collagen in the broth, which turns the broth into jelly at low temperature.
Pork jelly can be made from pork feet, shank, ear, tail, pork skin, but it can also contain smoked meat, vegetables like carrot and parsley root, or hard boiled eggs. The bigger stores in Hungary provide so called pork jelly packs that include all the necessary pork parts that are suitable for kocsonya or you can even ask your bucther to prepare a similar pack.
We use only a few spices to season pork jelly: black pepper and allspice corns, salt and garlic. Many, many, many garlic cloves. Besides the ingredients the only thing you need to make the perfect kocsonya is patience. It takes 3-4 hours to simmer the meat, then broth needs several hours to set. But believe me, it’s worth. We eat with soft white bread, sprinkling ground paprika or squeezing lemon juice over its top.
- 6 pork hind feet (~3 kg / ~6 2/3 lbs)
- 2 pork ears, cut into strips
- 400 g (~14 oz) pork skin, cut into strips
- 6 l (~25 cups) water
- 2 heads of garlic
- 4 tsp. salt
- 20 black peppercorns
- 15 allspice corns
Place the cut and cleaned hind feet and the ear strips into a large cooking pot, pour cold water over them. Bring it to a boil, skim off the foam, add salt, 6 peeled garlic cloves, pepper and allspice corns, and cook slowly over low heat. After 1 hour, add skin strips and simmer for about 2 hours or until meat easily comes off the bone.
Meanwhile peel the remaining garlic cloves and crush with a garlic press. When the meat is tender, turn off the heat, with a strainer separate meat from the soup, remove the bones (I prefer to leave in some because feet look better with bones). Add crushed garlic to the stock and let it cool in a cold place until you can remove fat from the top (don’t let the stock set, it must be liquid).
Divide meat in bowls (now you can add hard boiled eggs, pickled cucumber or what you want), then ladle stock to cover. Let kocsonya set in a cold place.
Serve with bread, you can squeeze lemon juice or sprinkle ground paprika over the top.