Romanian Garlic Chicken Aspic | Piftie | Racitura

Back in the days, Romanian families would sacrifice a pig at the beginning of December, then use it to prepare all sorts of delicacies for the holidays. Nothing was left aside: we have a great variety of tasty recipes that use most parts (not only the meat). As such, the holidays season brings a lot of specific dishes that are not easily encountered throughout the rest of the year.


'Piftie' or 'racitura' is one prime example of such a recipe. It uses some of the meat, but most importantly the pig's feet. When boiled, the feet create a lot of gelatin, which causes the dish to thicken like a jello when cold. As it's not so easy to find pig feet abroad, and also as chicken or turkey are lighter and easier on the stomach, I present a variation of the recipe that can be easily prepared with fairly common ingredients. Note that I recommend using packaged gelatin: I used pigs feet in the past, but I found them to add some flavor that was out of place in combination with the chicken meat - gelatin does the job without adding any extra taste.


Ingredients:
 - Three to four pounds of chicken legs or wings (you need a lot of bones and skin to add taste, and some meat)
 - One head of garlic, peeled and mashed
 - One carrot
 - One parsnip
 - One onion
 - Two celery stalks
 - Three bay leaves
 - One tablespoon of black pepper seeds
 - Gelatin (a few packages, depending on soup quantity left after boiling)
 - Salt
 - For decoration and serving: bread, mustard, parsley, radishes, scallions, bell peppers


Preparation:
 - Boil the chicken in water on medium heat for about two and a half hours. Discard the foam periodically to keep the soup clear.
 - Add the carrot, parsnip, onion, celery stalks, bay leaves, and black pepper seeds. Boil for another hour.
 - Add the mashed head of garlic, and fix for salt. If the soup is too greasy, then a layer of fat will form at the top - feel free to remove and discard it.
 - Now to thickening the soup. The chicken bones and skin are most likely insufficient to make the soup coagulate. If you want to check this: take a bit of soup in a jar, place in the fridge until it cools, and check its consistency. Most likely, you will need to add gelatin to thicken it. Check the instructions on your gelatin package, and use about two thirds the recommended gelatin proportion for making jello. For example, if the instructions tell to combine a package with a cup of water, then you want to use about two packages for three cups of soup. Check how much soup you have: I ended up with six-seven cups, so I used four packages of gelatin. Check the instructions on the package: I initially added the gelatin to a cup of soup, let it sit for about a minute, then I thoroughly mixed this with the rest of the soup.
 - Separately, pick the chicken meat, shred it, and set it aside. Also, save the carrot (for color). Discard the chicken bones, skin, and all other solid ingredients in the soup.
 - Select a few deep bowls. Place parsley and carrot pieces on their bottom, then add chicken meat on top. Carefully add the soup over, but filter it through a tea strainer to make it as clear as possible.
 - Let it refrigerate overnight.


Presentation:
 - When ready to serve, remove one of more bowls with the dish from the fridge. Carefully flip them over onto flat plates: this upside-down soup with smooth edges is a most dramatic presentation.
 - Feel free to use extra parsley to garnish the dish.
 - Serve with bread, mustard, and fresh vegetables (radishes, scallions, or bell peppers). Feel free to use some of them to further improve the presentation.

2 comments:

  1. Am inceput sa gatesc de dorul de acasa si acum ma pot inspira din retetele tale. Multumim frumos de asa prezentari.

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    1. Mihaela - tot de dorul de acasa m-am apucat si eu de gatit. Sper sa gasesti retete care sa-ti placa, si daca ai intrebari sau alte comentarii, ascult si raspund cu placere.

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