Meat jelly, or Aspic, or Aspic Gelée is a widespread dish around Europe made from beef or pork. Russian meat jelly, called Holodets (or Kholodets), is a popular winter dish and an ‘unavoidable’ part of the traditional New Year / Christmas festive table in Russia. Try our family recipe for Russian Holodets meat jelly!
Typical Russian Holodets meat jelly is a delicate aspic and it is usually made from pork or beef (always from beef in our house), but can also be prepared from chicken and any other meat but in this case you will have to add gelatin to the stock. Fish jelly is a separate popular entry and can often go alongside Holodets meat jelly. Boiled meat joints naturally contain a lot of gelatine, hence the stock (consommé) in Holodets can usually can into jelly naturally, when refrigerated, without added gelatin.
Holodets is a perfect Paleo food (please check out our new Paleo friendly tag for more recipes like this).
Holodets – Russian Meat Jelly Recipe
For our Holodets recipe you will need a combination of meat joints rich of gelatine (I recommend ox tails) and some inexpensive lean cuts of beef. You will also need several different dishes to congeal Holodets in. An oven-to-table dish like Denby will work well as Holodets will go on the table in it looking good. You can also use different types of bowls (not too deep though) and ramekins. Please refer to the picture while making Holodets meat jelly by our recipe.
- 6 ox tail cuts (see the picture)
- 230 g rump steak or other lean beef
- Everything for beef stock / consomme making: 1 large onion, 1 carrot, 3 sticks of celery, 3 bay leaves, 2 cloves of garlic, bouquet garni, salt, peppercorns
- More peeled garlic to taste
- Fresh parsley for decoration if you wish
- Horseradish sauce or mustard to serve
- Wash the ox tails cuts and beef in cold water, place into a large pot, add everything for the stock, pour boiling water on top (or pour cold water and bring to boil on the gas). When the stock starts boiling, take the foam off the surface of the stock and turn down the heat to the minimum (this way the stock will be clear).
- Boil the meat for about 3 hours on the minimum heat (just slightly bubbling). Turn off the heat and let cool down to warm.
- Get the tails and the meat out of the pot. Separate the tail pieces into bones and meat, discard the bones. Shred all the meat from the stock and place into the prepared dishes, bowls and ramekins evenly.
- Press garlic into the dishes. Mix garlic with the shredded meat.
- Catch the onion, carrot, celery sticks and herbs with the slotted spoon and get them out of the stock. Taste the stock for salt and adjust if needed. Now pour the stock through the sieve into the dishes with the meat evenly so that the stock covers the meat and forms some clear layer on top of the meat. Insert sprigs of parsley by the walls of ramekins if desired (it will set beautifully with the meat jelly).
- Cover the dishes with cutting boards or just cling film and put them into the refrigerator for the night.
- Serve in the large dishes as it is. Small ramekins or bowls can served as individual servings of Holodets meat jelly or, alternatively, can be briefly warmed in water and knocked over onto the individual plates (in the picture).
Holodets meat jelly is served as a cold starter before the main meal (the first party of a traditional Russian festive meal). Most often Holodets is accompanied by vodka and other cold starters (pickled tomatoes, pickled mushrooms, Russian sour cabbage, Russian potato salad etc.) and eaten with rye bread and horseradish sauce on the side. Enjoy!