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Festive jellied meat – Kocsonya

Hungarian jellied meat

Kocsonya [ˈkot͡ʃoɲɒ] is an Eastern European festive dish, that truly defines the “nose to tail” eating that entails using the less fashionable cuts.  “If you’re going to kill the animal it seems only polite to use the whole thing.”  as the often quoted Fergus Henderson said in his book on this topic.

The dish is savoury and eaten cold. The cooked meats nearly always pork, seldom fish, covered with aspic like gelatin. The cuts to select are pigs’ feet, ears, tails or heads and a combination of scrap pork meat. Slowly cooked for hours so that the gelatin melts out and sets the dish when cooled, no need to add anything else. It is rich in collagen, the protein responsible for skin and muscle tone and will make you look and feel younger.

Ingredients ( 6 portions)

  • 1500 gram (3.3 lb) pork meat (pigs’ feet, tail, ears, head meat, skin)
  • 1 pork hock, could be smoked
  • 2 white onions, outer skin peeled and used in whole
  • 6 cloves of garlic, cleaned of outer shell and left in whole
  • 10 -15 pieces of whole black peppercorns
  • 2 medium carrots, cleaned, halved or quartered
  • 2 medium parsley root or 1-2 medium wedges of celery root, 1-2 celery stalks – all of these or what you can find
  • 2 chilli peppers, whole
  • 2-3 hard boiled eggs (optional)
  • cold water, enough for two inches covering the top of the meats in the cooking pot
  • salt to sprinkle the meat with and later to season the broth at the end, depending on taste and if salty smoked meats used at all


  1. You will need a large stockpot about 8.5 litre capacity.
  2. Chop the meat into manageable pieces to fit in your pot later. Wash under cold running water and pat dry;
  3. Sprinkle with salt and let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes
  4. Place the meat in the pot, add cold water, the water should well cover the meats with 2 inches on top
  5. Without a lid, bring to the boil, skim the resulting frothy surface of the stock
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients, the whole onions, garlic cloves, root vegetables, chilli peppers, black peppercorns
  7. Slowly cook for 3-4 hours at simmering point, keep skimming the froth that still might from on top and add the lost water back from time to time until the meat is thoroughly cooked and falls off the bone
  8. Towards the end of the cooking time season with salt to your preference, it should be well seasoned like a nice broth but not overly salty
  9. Take out the meat and cooked vegetables, discard the onion and garlic
  10. Strain the broth through a cheese cloth or linen previously soaked in cold water and wrung
  11. Next step is to take off the fat that is on the top
  12. Best to let the whole thing cool enough for the fat layer to start to solidify,  skim and discard the fat, you can mop up the rest with a serviette
  13. Divide the meat and cooked vegetables  into serving bowls, only minimal bones or none at all should be served.  You can put hard-boiled egg halves in there with the meat too.
  14. Ladle the kocsonya broth over the meat portions
  15. Let it set overnight at a cool place, sprinkle with a little paprika powder and eat the next day with bread and a splash of vinegar if you like


4 thoughts on “Festive jellied meat – Kocsonya

  1. Ma always took the feet/ sliced in half, and singed any hair off. But, she added , make them nice and rosey before you place in your pot to cook. I took it to the grill, and lay them on , flipping and making sure they don’t burn. This is a time saver from prepping each piece. But we didn’t have a grill 50 years ago. I go further and splash them a bit with soy sauce, or booze, or whatever works. Actually ,I use a mister to keep them moist and from burning. Regardless of all that, a really nice dish, with pumpernickel bread and a good beer. I prepare this in summer and keep in outside fridge when too hot to cook.

  2. This recipe brings back wonderful memories. Kocsonya was my grandfather’s favorite dish. My grandmother, or nagymama, was a great cook and always indulged nagytata’s culinary requests. That’s the way it was in those days.

  3. I made kocsonya recently for the first time (a different recipe), and it was very good. I am excited to try your recipe. Kocsonya is one of my favourite dishes.

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