Ptcha is an acquired taste, but this delicious recipe is definitely a wonderful taste of the old country.

The Backstory: So what is this crazy-sounding Jewish dish that will surely test your “ch” pronunciation skills?? Ptcha is basically a traditional Ashkenazi meat aspic dish made from jellies cavles’ feet. Yes, I know that’s a lot to chew on (no pun intended). Let’s just say our ancestors certainly brought some interesting foods over from Eastern Europe and this might be at the top of the list. And even though ptcha might not have assimilated as easily as the bagel, it’s certainly hard enough to say, there are plenty of fans who remember it well and still enjoy it. Case in point: it’s still on the menu at the 2nd Avenue Deli, which should tell you everything you need to know. Jews are ordering and eating ptcha! At least in New York.   More of the Backstory after the recipe

Ptcha/Calves Foot Jelly

Ptcha is savory with deep, rich flavors. When cut into squares and served with a wedge of lemon, the presentation is very pleasing to the eye.
Course Lunch, Sides
Cuisine Jewish
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 6 minutes
Servings 8 people


  • 2 Kosher cows feet cut into 1 inch pieces Ask your butcher to do this
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large onion cut into small pieces
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces.
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 lemons cut into wedges for serving


  1. Put the the cows' feet into a large bowl and soak in cold water for 1 hour. Drain. Using a large stock pot put the cows' feet into the pot and add water to cover the bones. Boil on medium heat. Add bay leaf, onions garlic, and carrots. Skim off the fat during the cooking process. You may have to add a little water during this process. But you don't want to lose the flavor that is in less water. Use your judgement on this. Cook on medium heat for 2-3 hours. When the meat and gristle is off the bone, it is done.

  2. Remove from heat. Discard the bones and scrape off any meat that might be left on the bones. Remove the bay leaf and discard it. Reserve the liquid. Put the meat in a dish and chop it finely, adding the salt and pepper and mixing together. Adjust seasoning to your taste
  3. Put the meat in a large bowl and gradually add the reserved broth. Pour the mixture into a 9" x 13" baking dish. When dish is cool, cover and put into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, cut into squares and serve with lemon wedges.

…The Backstory continues: When it comes to making ptcha, there may be a controversy over whether the water should be changed after the first step of the recipe or if you should continue using the same water.  This recipe is a combination of several recipes, with a little tweak on the ingredients.  I first remember hearing about ptcha from some of my elderly relatives, but I do not recall them ever making it.  Yet, in conversations they always proclaimed how they loved it and miss not having it. My question to one aunt was “Why don’t you make it”? No answer, just a shrug of the shoulders.

If you want to make it at home, here’s how:

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Myrna Turek

Myrna Turek

I'm a domestic goddess who got my 'PhD' in Home Ec in the early 1960s. I was married for 52 years and have six grandchildren. If it were up to me, everything would be fried. Including chocolate.
Myrna Turek

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