Making Broth, or Brodo

Making Broth: Chicken, Beef, Herbs...

Making Broth: Chicken, Beef, Herbs…

One might not think it, but broth is a culinary masterpiece. It serves as in ingredient in all sorts of things, from stew to risotto, and in its own right provides the perfect supper after a filling midday meal. For that matter, broth with tortellini or cappelletti is a standard first course at festive dinners in Northern Italy. A good bowl of broth will warm you in the winter, refresh you in the summer, and is perfect year round if you’re on a diet.

You will find that what you p

  • 2-3 quarts of water
  • 2 pounds of beef, either shanks, short plate, short ribs, or brisket
  • A piece of spongy bone, or a joint, split (optional)
  • Half a chicken or capon
  • A stick of celery
  • A carrot, scraped
  • A bunch of parsley
  • A bunch of basil, if it’s in season
  • A small onion
  • A tomato (optional)
  • 2 or 3 pepper corns
  • A clove or two (optional; it tempers the sweetness derived from the poultry)
  • Salt to taste – go easy, because the broth will evaporate and get saltier as it cooks

Meat from older animals is better because it has more flavor, and the beef should not be too lean. A piece of spongy bone, or a joint, split, enriches the broth, though it also makes it heavier. If you want to keep the meat of the fowl from discoloring put it in a finely woven bag – it will cook just the same, and the broth will not be affected.

Start with cold water; figure about a quart of water per pound of meat. Add the meat, vegetables, and seasonings to the water at the same time. Heat the pot over a high flame until the broth comes to a boil, and then turn the heat down and skim the froth that rises to the surface with a slotted spoon.

Fat Rises up From Simmering Broth...

Fat Rises up From Simmering Broth…

Simmer the broth for a couple of hours, or until a fork easily penetrates the meat. Check the seasoning, strain the broth, let it cool, and skim the fat that rises to the surface (the best way to do this is to chill the broth and remove the fat, which will congeal, with a fork). Use the broth to make soups or serve it by itself. When serving plain broth, most Italians will add a couple of tablespoons of fine pasta such as crumbled angel hairs or pastina to the soup pot.

Serve the meat as boiled dinner, with the sauces and vegetables you prefer. Or use the beef to make meatballs.

Note: if you are pressed for time, you can make broth from these ingredients in a pressure cooker, in about thirty-five minutes. The result isn’t quite as good, but it’s much faster.


Tags: , ,

Categories: Clear Soups

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.


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One Comment on “Making Broth, or Brodo”

  1. January 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    There’s an old Italian saying: La gallina vecchia fa buon brodo or An old hen makes good broth. To this day, I only use an old hen to make soup, vegetables, a piece of hard cheese and a cinnamon stick. Che profumo!

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