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Meat jelly is no other than boiled meat pieces in aspic. This is one of the dishes I love and remember from my mom's holiday menu.
Kholodets that derives in Russian from the word kholod (cold) is a traditional winter treat, loved by many. It takes one day and half a night to prepare, but the result is worth the effort. After Alex's begging and wining for quite a while, I surrendered and made us a little pre-holiday feast.

What you need:
2 lb beef/pork leg bones (sawed in pieces)
1.5 lb beef meat
1.5 lb chicken parts (legs or wings)
Filtered water
1 big yellow onion , peeled or washed
Black pepper corns
Bay leaf
4-6 cloves finely sliced or chopped garlic (optional)

As I said, the preparation takes about the whole day, but it is not complicated. 90% of this time will go on boiling bones and meats to draw as much natural gelatin  as possible. If you use a lot of bones, there is no need in artificial gelatin that is usually added to aspic.
Wash the bones, cover with water and bring to boil. Discard this first water when it becomes foamy. Cover with water again, and boil on medium to low about 2 hours, skimming the fats and foam. After 2 hours add salt, whole onion, and pepper corns. Boil another 2 hours. If water evaporated, add some boiling water. The jelly parts of the bones will become softer, and that's the part you need for a good result.

Chicken is soft, but not ready yet
On the fifth hour add beef meat, bring to boil, and skim thoroughly all the foam and fat. Boil meat together with bones about 1 hour, then add chicken parts and bay leaf. If water evaporated too much, add some boiling water. You should have enough liquids to get some jellied broth on molded kholodets, so all parts of meat should be generously covered with broth. Boil everything until meat is very soft, and chicken meat is falling off the bones. All in all about 8 hours or even more.

Try to skim the fat from the surface

Switch off the heat, and let it all cool down to the temperature you can tolerate with you hands. Skim excess fat from the surface of the broth.
Now comes the messy part. Take out all bones and meat, thoroughly cut off all jelly parts from the beef bones, mince with a sharp knife.
Take all meat pieces of the bones with your hands (be careful not to leave some bones behind or somebody minght break a tooth :), cut them coarsely with a sharp knife.

Make a layer of broth on the top
Pour the broth through the sieve into another pan, and place all meat pieces and jelly pieces into the broth, stir, taste for salt, add more if needed. Put on heat and warm through almost to the boiling point.
For this quantity of meat I needed two glass or porcelain dishes 8x10"with about 3" high sides. Sprinkle the bottoms of dishes with garlic, and ladle the meat and broth mixture into them. Let it cool to room temperature, cover, and transfer to the fridge until morning.
In the morning your meat jelly is all molded and ready to eat. Serve with hot mustard and horseradish.

Meat combinations could be different, but a substantial amount of bones is a must to get it all jellied.
You can make a chicken meat jelly, if you boil a good whole chicken for a few hours. It is very tasty, too, but I prefer a combination of meats.
The boiled meat pieces could be minced. This is the way my mom did it and that's how I remember it from my childhood. This kholodets is even in consistency with a layer of jellied broth on top.
If you leave the omion unpeeled, it will give the broth a nice shade of amber. Make sure the onion is not damaged and wash it well.
If there is still some fat on the surface of your jelly when it is molded, scrape if off with a warm knife and throw away.
To make an impressive presentation, you could turn the jelly over to another big serving dish, bottom up, this way it will look nicer. To succeed in this, put the dish with jelly in hot water for 2 minutes, run a knife along the edge of the jelly to separate it from the sides of the dish, then put another serving dish over, grip well, and quickly turn it upside down. Decorate along the sides with greens and pieces of colorful vegetables.
Garlic can be omitted, you can put pieces of boiled carrots, and some parsley leaves on the bottom. The dish will look magical, when you turn it bottom up.

Last but not  least, kholodets is a great companion to vodka. If you eat kholodets with vodka, you will not get drunk - a little trick some people use at Russian parties. :) It also is perfect to eliminate hangover in the morning.
Tags:    appetizer beef chicken meat Russian traditional
Summary: a Russian traditional appetizer recipe
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