Meat jello or Aspic, as it is formally called, is rich in amino acids and nutrients. It's naturally a great source of collagen and helps support bone, teeth and joint health. It's naturally Whole30, Keto, Paleo and GAPS diet compliant.
The History of Jello
Meat jello dates as early as 1375 when the original and detailed Aspic recipe was published in Le Viandier, a collection of the best known recipes of the Middle-Ages.
In 1897, cough syrup manufacturer in LeRoy, New York came up with a concoction for a cough remedy, including laxative and fruit flavoring and we now know that product as Jell-O of course, minus the cough suppressant and laxative, or maybe not. The LeRoy resident, Pearl Wait tried to market his findings but was unsuccessful. (source)
Two years later, he sold his formula to the tune of $450. Today, Jell-O is the largest selling desert and is known worldwide. We don’t consume Jell-O in our house and whether or not you do, that’s your choice (but I highly discourage that you do). What we do eat instead is real and pure gelatin. For instance, this nourishing and delicious aspic.
Note: For jelly-type recipes, we use grass-fed bovine gelatin and collagen products from Perfect Supplements. They carry high-quality collagen products and are leaders in the industry. Click to see what my favorite gelatin products and how you can save on all your purchases.
What is Aspic?
I like to think of Aspic or Meat Jello (Holodets in Russian) as glorified bone broth. And it makes sense as the technique and ingredients used in making bone broth are also similar to aspic. Only with more meat.
In fact, back in the Le Viandier recipe, aspic was used to preserve vegetables, meat and eggs. Of course with the advent of modern-day refrigeration, we don’t need to “preserve” vegetables in meat gelatin.
When making aspic, you want to use the purest ingredients as the slow and long cooking process extracts minerals out of bones and other animal cuts. And by purest ingredients, I mean grass-fed beef or pastured or organic chickens and free from hormones and antibiotics.
Aspic or "Meat Jello" is Supremely Nutritious
The best part about this recipe is its' nutrient content. When you cook bones for an extended period, you are breaking down the collagen, protein found in bone, marrow, cartilage, and tendons and that process produces gelatin.
Gelatin is responsible for aiding protein absorption and soothing the gut lining. That’s why Chicken Noodle Soup is so nourishing for your gut when you are fighting a virus. The collagen/gelatin factor in bone broth or aspic can also make your skin supple and reduce cellulite. Another benefit of bone broth is the healing properties in the form of amino acids that they contain.
There are numerous benefits of bone broth and aspic so it's a given you should have this superfood in your kitchen at all times but I’ll be honest with you, I don’t care for making it.
That’s why I prefer my slow-cooker to do most of the job. This aspic recipe is made out of pork trotters (pig feet) but the meat can be whatever you have on hand. I’ve used leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, or leftover roast chicken meat, or leftover slow-cooked rump roast.
Did you catch the theme? Any leftover meat will work.
How to Make Aspic (Meat Jello) in the Slow Cooker
Toss all ingredients, except the cooked meat into the slow cooker. You can add whatever veggies you typically use when making bone broth. I like celery, onions, carrots (though I add this later) and lots of garlic (with skins).
Turn the slow cooker on high and bring to a boiling point. When it reaches a gentle simmer, add carrot and reduce heat to the lowest possible setting and cook for 8 hours (I usually leave this overnight and process it in the morning).
By now, the pork trotters should be falling apart and you should have a very rich, gelatinous bone broth. Divide previously cooked meat of choice in small ramekins or other glassware containers such as pint-size mason jars.
Double strain the broth into a large bowl (I like using this for ease and simplicity) making sure you’re left with very clear, clean golden liquid. If you don’t have a fine-mesh sieve, spread a cheesecloth on a regular sieve to catch all herbs and other debris.
Add fresh minced garlic to the broth and pour into the containers. Add a slice of cooked carrot to each container for garnish and dill or parsley. Discard pork trotters and veggies as you would when making bone broth.
Set aspic in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Traditionally, aspic should be served with dijon mustard or horseradish paste.
If you’re going for convenience, small jelly jars or other small containers (with lids) works best. It makes for an easy lunch packing during hectic mornings. If you’re wanting to impress your friends and family, perhaps a bundt pan would look extra fancy.
How to Make Aspic (Meat Jello)
- 4 pounds pork trotters about 4-5lbs pig feet
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 large onion
- 1 large carrot
- 10-12 garlic cloves separated
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 tablespoons combined herbs: rosemary, basil, oregano 2 tablespoons each
- 2 tablespoons real salt
- 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
- 2 cups cooked meat (chicken, beef, turkey, lamb)
- few sprigs of parsley or dill
- Toss all ingredients but carrots and cooked meat into a slow cooker.
- Turn the slow cooker on high and bring to a boiling point. When it reaches a gentle simmer, add carrot and reduce heat to the lowest possible setting and cook for 8 hours (I usually leave this overnight and process it in the morning).
- Divide previously cooked meat of choice between small containers.
- Double strain the broth into a large bowl making sure you’re left with very clear, clean golden liquid. Discard pork trotters and veggies as you would when making bone broth (chickens, compost, or trash).
- Add 2 cloves of fresh minced garlic in the broth and pour into the containers.
- Add a slice of cooked carrot to each container for garnish and dill or parsley.
- Set aspic in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
- It’s best served with rye bread and Dijon mustard.