Jellied Pig’s Feet

Kocsonya (Hungarian jellied pig’s feet)
This is one of the more fascinating dishes I remember watching my Hungarian born grandmother make when I was little. When the plates of finished pig’s feet were cooling on a table in her cool basement during the summer I would sneak mouthfuls of the savory jelled meat aspic and loved the way the tasty broth melted in my mouth, but at seven years old still found the meaty feet a little too problematic to eat. My grandfather and uncles would dig into the pig’s feet that were always served with rye bread and beer (it was Iron City beer because we lived in Pittsburgh) and would suck every morsel of meat and skin from the bones. It wasn’t until I was a grown up that I realized I also loved chunks of pigs feet and tender pork shoulder that were cooked with the trotters.

Resembling the meat aspics in French cuisine, this classic Hungarian dish is served for lunch, snacks or dinner and always with good rye bread. There’s nothing to be squeamish about. Pig’s feet are now sold in most supermarkets already cleaned and split in half. If you don’t see them in your meat case, ask your butcher to order you some. Here in Las Vegas the Mexican and Asian markets always have the meatiest trotters. The sweet Hungarian paprika is a critical seasoning here and can’t be substituted. Most major grocery stores these days carry a good brand or two in the spice aisle.

The pig’s feet can be made several days in advance and refrigerated before serving cold or at room temperature. The jelled broth is eaten along with the meat from the pork shoulder and pig’s feet on pieces of rye bread. Buy the best rye bread you can find for this dish. My grandmother always served a big bowl of peeled, sliced cucumbers simply seasoned with salt, pepper, vinegar, a dash of sugar and chopped fresh dill that was always growing in her garden. Quart jars of pickled Hungarian green tomatoes and crispy mild pickled peppers were always on the table. The vinegar helps cuts the richness of the dish and is a perfect accompaniment for this very classic eastern European bit of comfort food.

Kocsonya (Hungarian jellied pig’s feet)

3 pigs feet, cleaned well and split in half
1 lb pork shoulder
2 large carrots
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Wash the pig’s feet well and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 2 minutes and drain. Rinse the pig’s feet under cold water to remove any foam from the cooking.

Place the pig’s feet back in the pot along with the pork should cut into 3-4 chunks, the vegetables and the seasonings. Cover with cold water and bring just a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat right away to low, cover and simmer for about 2-3 hours or until the meat is very tender and falls apart.

With a slotted spoon gently remove the meat from the broth and set aside. Strain the broth through a strainer, discard the vegetables. Let the broth settle and skim the fat from the top of the broth. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt if needed.

Remove any large bits of fat and bone from the pork shoulder. Evenly divide the pork shoulder meat and the pig’s feet into 4 large soup plates or pie pans. Pour the strained broth over the meat to barely cover. Set aside in a cool place or refrigerator until the gelatin in the broth sets. Sprinkle the top of each plate liberally with more paprika before serving.

Serve as with good rye bread, cold beer and cucumber salad. Serves 4-6.

    • Alaine
    • September 22nd, 2014

    We made this with pigs feet but no vegetables. Garlic, paprika, salt pepper. I still love it and make it when I can find pigs feet. My dad, who is 95 just asked me to make him some. Thanks for posting. I may add some extra pork this time. Yum.

    • Erika B
    • July 18th, 2014

    Great Article, but the Original Jellied Pig feet has Pig ears, tail and other meats in it as well.. In certain areas in Hungary they add smoked meat ( soaked first in water for lighter smokie taste) as well.. I make Jellied pig feet every year just before Christmas.:)

    • Sharon T
    • August 28th, 2011

    Thank you for such a well-written story and recipe. I’m in my 50s and was telling my kids about the delicious foods that my Russian grandmother made. Yes, jellied pig’s feet was a delicacy for me as a child too. I loved the jellied broth with little bits of crunchy meat. My grandmother somehow shredded the meat into her dish. She’d cut us cubes from an 8X10 (Pyrex?) pan, and we’d eat it with horseradish sauce and cucumbers.

    I actually tried an alternative dish myself, using shredded pork, gelatin and some spices. It turned out fine and was very edible with horseradish sauce. Unfortunately, my family didnt get it.

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