Kocsonya. The mere mention of this savory gelatinous dish takes Hungarian food-lovers back to their childhood memories and Hungarian Christmas dinners past. If your grandmother made this dish for the holidays (or Sunday lunches during wintertime), you either loved it or hated it. But there’s no denying the lingering memory of this shimmering meat jelly.
Ambivelent attitudes towards kocsonya have a lot to do with ingredients used to make it. Traditionally, pork trotters, ears, snouts, and other undesirable pork part which most people wouldn’t dream of eating are slow-cooked together with vegetables and spices, creating a thick broth which is poured into a mold and left to cool into a firm, yet wobbling, aspic jelly. To lighten and diversify the taste, other meat (beef, chicken, and even fish) is also used these days, but pork definitely dominates the home-made varieties. Depending on the cook, there may be just enough aspic to hold the solid ingredients together, or the aspic may predominate, with the juicy parts left suspended in it at intervals. Either way, it’s always served as the main meal or as part of the main meal, presented simply with a sprinkling of sweet paprika and plenty of white bread.