Russian Holodets is a cold meat jelly, traditionally made in Russia for the holiday table. This Russian Holodets recipe is a very authentic Russian recipe that has been around for centuries. Holodets is similar to the head cheese that you can find in many ethnic delis. Russian Holodets is eaten cold out of the refrigerator, and spread with horseradish or mustard.
Traditionally Russian Holodets recipe is made with pigs feet, cows feet or chicken feet – they are a rich natural source of gelatin and give Holodets its gelatinous texture. If you are squeamish about stuff like pigs feet but still want to try authentic Holodets, the good news is that you can still make Holodets without them. You can make Holodets with chicken legs (not feet) – in this case, add the gelatin to help achieve the correct meat jelly texture.
Russian Holodets Meat Jelly Recipe
- 2 lbs pig, cow or chicken feet (or use chicken legs as an alternative)
- 1 lb boneless meat (any kind of meat, for example chicken thighs)
- 1 onion, peeled
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- Clear gelatin (you need it ONLY if using chicken legs)
Instructions How To Make Russian Holodets
- Put all the meat, whole onion, salt and pepper in a large pot. Add enough water to completely cover the meat plus an extra inch of water on top of the meat.
- Bring water to a boil and skim off the foam.
- Reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer for 3 hours.
- Add the bay leaves and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove all the meat from the pot.
- Discard the onion and bay leaves.
- Pull the meat away from the bones and discard the bones.
- Chop all the meat and put on the bottom of an 8×12 dish (you can use Pyrex dish).
- Strain the cooking liquid through the cheesecloth.
- If you were using chicken legs instead of feet, you need to add the gelatin to the liquid. Add 3 grams of gelatine for each cup of the liquid and mix thoroughly.
- Pour the liquid over the chopped meat.
- Refrigerate the dish with Holodets overnight.
- Cut Holodets into squares and serve with horseradish or mustard.
Some optional additions to this basic Holodets recipe are chopped garlic, sliced carrots and sliced hard-boiled eggs.
To make Holodets with garlic, add raw finely chopped garlic on the bottom of the baking dish along with the chopped meat, then pour the strained liquid over it and refrigerate.
To make Holodets with carrots, add peeled carrots to the Holodets stock during the last hour of cooking. After it’s done cooking, take out the boiled carrots and slice into rounds. Add carrot slices to the chopped meat, pour the strained liquid on top and refrigerate.
To make Holodets with eggs, add sliced boiled eggs to the chopped meat, then pour the cooking liquid on top and refrigerate.
A great shortcut for making Holodets is to use the slow cooker to simmer the water with meat – this way you won’ have to watch the pot!