Aspic is a savory meat jelly that is made from broth that thickens as it cools. For this recipe, we will speed up the process by using gelatin.
Aspic may or may not be a dish you are familiar with. In the United States, people used to love aspic in the 1950s and 1960s. Then, it kind of fell off the radar. However, it is still extremely popular in Eastern Europe.
Growing up in a Ukrainian household, I expected aspic at every celebration and family party. If you find yourself turning your nose up a bit to the idea of this dish, I beg you to not knock it before you try it. Be adventurous and read on!
What is Aspic?
At this point, you are probably wondering what aspic tastes like and how to eat it. In short, aspic is a combination of chicken, onions, garlic and fresh herbs in a gelatin of bone broth and spices. Prepare hot and consumed cold, this meat jelly melts from the heat of your mouth and releases an awesome broth. Yes, it may sound weird, but this dish has been eaten for CENTURIES for good reason. It’s decadent, interesting and sure to impress.
In Eastern Europe, this dish is called “kholodets”. Traditionally, it takes A LONG TIME to make this dish. Over the course of the day, my mother would boil bones with plenty of cartilage — like pig and cow feet, pig knuckles or chicken feet — alongside carrots, herbs, onions, etc. This process would release all the collagen and marrow from the bones, creating a natural gelatin. Today, I often skip the feet and knuckles and opt to use gelatin packets for quicker results.
Back in the day, we ate aspic because it was delicious and a great way to use those collagen-rich bones. We would serve it alongside warm mashed potatoes and it was so comforting to me as a child. With all the current hype surrounding “bone broth” and Keto diets, I know see just how healthy aspic actually is. It’s full of protein and nutrients, while being low-carb. Convinced to give it a try yet?
Tips for Making Aspic
- Meats to Use: Like I said above, the best meat to use for aspic is pork — especially the feet because of all that natural gelatin. But, because many of my guests tend not to be so inclined to eat pigs feet, I use bone-in chicken and gelatin packets.
- Veggies to Use: Just like with any broth, you want to use all the usual suspects. Celery, carrots and onions make for the perfect aspic.
- Herbs: You can use any fresh herbs that you like. I love fresh dill and parsley.
- Other Flavoring: Sometimes I pop a couple bay leaves into the broth (make sure to remove them before letting the gelatin set). If you’re feeling creative, feel free to use whatever spice blend suits your fancy.
Can You Freeze Aspic?
I really would advise against freezing aspic. The texture and taste just wouldn’t be the same after thawing or defrosting. This dish is best eaten fresh. It will, however, keep for about a week stored in an airtight container in the fridge if you’re looking for leftovers.
Make Aspic in an Instant Pot
Making aspic is the perfect opportunity to bust out the Instant Pot. You can cut down the cooking time significantly! Cook the ingredients on low pressure for about two hours. Then, allow the pressure to release completely naturally. Open the lid and skim off any fat or overcooked herbs that have floated to the top (remember, you want your aspic to be as clear as possible). Add in your gelatin and follow the rest of the recipe.
Other Childhood Classics to Try
- Place the cooking pot with water, chicken, carrots, onion, salt and pepper to taste. All just together and bring up to boil. Turn heat on really low and let cook for 4 hours.
- Remove carrots and onions. You can use carrots for decorations and you can throw away the onion. Remove chicken from pot. Clean chicken off the bone, break chicken into small pieces. In a 1/4 cup, add room temperature water and dissolve gelatin with water. Once its dissolved add to broth.
- In flat pan place chicken, carrots, and sprinkle with parsley and dill. Pour cooking broth over the chicken and herbs. Let it stay in the fridge to firm up, this process could take about 6 hours.
- Cut in cubes and serve.