On a recent trip to Tuscany, my favorite Canadian friend was incredulous that she was unable to find chicken stock in food shops and supermarkets the way she can, say, at the Granville Market in Vancouver. And for my part, I have seen beef and chicken stock for sale at a Waitrose supermarket in London. What can I say? they are indeed a great idea. Anything that makes life easier is a good idea. Would I, however, buy the stuff myself? Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm. I won’t say ‘no’ but neither will I answer a resounding or enthusiastic ‘yes’ — because for me ‘brodo’ (which is either chicken or beef or mixed meats stock) is sacred … why would I want anyone else making it? And when I do make it, I usually make a lot and then pour some into containers which I freeze and keep handy for future use.
Thinking about all this gently jolted me into recalling my cooking credo: It is my belief that a cook’s emotions and vibrations go into the food he or she is preparing … so who is going to inject more love into my family’s meal … me or some unknown manufacturer who is making the product to sell it? I don’t mean to imply that the product is not good or healthy … it just isn’t imbued with love, that’s all.
And besides … making stock or broth is not difficult, it just takes time — that’s all. Here are the ingredients for a brodo that my nephew Oliver particularly appreciated … and so I now call it Oliver’s Brodo. Here are the ingredients:
4 whole peppers, 2 cloves, 1 carrot, 1 leek, 1 onion, 2 celery sticks, 800g of capon or chicken, 200g of pork, 800g of beef. You will also need 4 litres of water, preferably — don’t laugh — bottled water, because most tap water tastes awful or smacks of chlorine. A bay leaf is also typical for any stock and I also added a few parsley stems. The important thing to remember when making stock is to avoid any leaves (e.g. parsley or celery) – except for bay leaves of course.
After washing the meat and cutting it up into chunks if necessary, put it in a large stockpot and add the water. Peel the onion and stick the two cloves into it and add the other peeled vegetables. Turn the heat on a low heat and simmer for 3 hours (minimum 2 hours). At first some scum might rise to the surface, which you can remove with a slotted spoon. After that, you can put the lid on the stockpot making sure there is just a little bit of a crack to allow the steam out …
Once ready, the stock needs to be filtered and that’s it!
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH BRODO?
Use it as a base to make other soups. Make ‘stracciatella’ – egg drop soup. Use it to make consommé. Keep some handy to add flavour to any gravy or meat dish … use it to make an aspic recipe. On its own, use it to house some very tasty tortellini or cappelletti …
No, this is not gone-off milk. This is brodo that I had frozen. Notice the fat lurking about at the neck of the bottle.
Don’t worry about the fat … use a strainer while pouring the brodo into a stockpot.
That can all be thrown away now …
Here are some cappelletti (little hats) that I bought … these can be made at home of course but it takes a lot of patience and not a little skill and so, let’s face it, most of us buy them.
Follow the instructions on the packet for cooking time, usually about 5 minutes.
And here they are — Ollie’s favorite: cappelletti in brodo.
Or make chicken corn soup! Just add strips of the cooked chicken, some corn and a few parsley leaves, salt and pepper and bob’s your uncle.
Here is the meat looking thoroughly unappetising – don’t be put off. It needs to be trimmed of any fat and chewy bits and groomed before being used to make other dishes.
You can eat the boiled meat still-hot from the soup warm or at room temperature accompanied by: mustard, or a salsa verde, or mostarda di cremona, or mayonnaise. Or even just a drizzle of good olive oil. The meat is incredibly tender.
You can use the cooked meat to make polpette or patties with it :
Mince the meat with a sharp knife, add an egg, some breadcrumbs or stale bread softened in water or milk, some grated parmesan cheese, minced parsley if you like it, ditto garlic, and salt and pepper. Mix well and form meat balls which you then squash into patties. Cover with them breadcrumbs too and quickly fry in some olive oil or butter.
Surprisingly good! Kids will love them with ketchup or HP sauce … older kids too!
PICCHIAPO’ (pronounced peek-ya-poh)
And last but not least, you can make Picchiapo’, which is all about re-invigorating the boiled meat with onion, herbs and tomatoes …
Sauté some carrot and celery and onion in a little olive oil …
Here is that unappetising meat again … before … and
And here it is again, after it has been groomed and cut up.
Add the meat to the happy sauce and mix well … add salt and pepper and chilli flakes too if you like.
The meat is already cooked so basically it’s only a question of letting it absorb taste and warm up.
Piacchiapo’ …. ready to be served with lots of freshly cut parsley.
There is a lot to that saying “Waste not, want not” … but in actual fact, especially for the older generations in Italy, the above dishes are not thought of as ‘leftovers’ but as yummy dishes which they make on purpose and look forward to eating!