The Latvian and Modern KitchenFischbach D.P. Camp, Germany, 1948


Pig aspic, or more fondly (or derisively), "pig jello", food of the gods! Our translated recipe follows.

Pork — 1 kilogram (specifically "sivēna," meaning young or suckling pork)
Water — as needed
Salt — to taste
Onions — 1 — 2 pieces
Carrots — 1 — 2 pieces
Celery, parsley — as needed

Use young, medium fatty pork, usually heads, feet [pigs knuckles], neck meat, etc. With a damp cloth wipe down the meat and divide it up into medium sized pieces, chop the feet in two, put it into a kettle, fill with cold water so that all the meat is covered (don't add too much water!) and boil. To the boiling meat add salt, skinned whole onions, the rest of the vegetables and simmer [boiling] until the meat is soft. It's advisable to keep a lid on the kettle, to not lose the aroma. Take the meat that's ready out of the boullion and leave the rest to simmer slowly [until done], then let stand to cool and for it to settle. Separate the meat from the bones how best you please, cut into neat, even cubes, or you can use it with all the bones having prepared beforehand medium sized bowls (rinsed out with cold water) or into metal forms. For a neater look, before filling decorate the bowls with greens, neatly sliced carrots, egg slices, etc. Fill the dishes with meat, but not quite full, and finally pour over the boullion through a sieve. If the boullion is very fatty, then spoon the excess fat off the top. Take your prepared galerts dishes and put in a cool place to cool and congeal. Before serving at the table, unmold out of the dish onto a suitably shallow dish and decorate with greens; serve with horseradish, vinegar, and other strong garnishes or salad.

Latvian original, from page 381 of The Latvian and Modern Kitchen

But when do you add the gelatin?” you ask. It's quite possible to modernize the recipe above. There are many good recipes out there for preparing aspic (that's the jello part of the pig jello). If you go that way, make sure to use a good consomme or at least a high quality boullion. (We like Imagine organic broth — it's the only one we've found that actually tastes home-cooked.)

That said, in our families galerts has only ever been prepared the traditional way, using plenty of pigs knuckles — gelatin comes from cooking down the ligaments and connecting tissue in the meat. The flavor and tenderness come from simmering the pork for a long time. Simply stirring chunks of roast pork into gelatinized boullion just isn't the same as the real thing.

Sad to say, Silvija and I don't see eye to eye on the gastronomic appeal of galerts. The mix of gelatinous texture and meat flavor just doesn't appeal to Silvija. On the other hand I love it. The food of the gods!

"Latviskā un Modernā Virtuve" remains under Latvian copyright and is presented for personal and educational use only. Our reproduction with commentary and selected translations qualifies as part of a protected collection and a protected derivative work under Latvian Copyright Law § 5. ¶ 1. © 2021.

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