Saturday, January 9, 2010

Basic Homemade Meat Broth

Bloody meat broth. So many of Marcella's recipes call for it. And her son's. Soups, stews, vegetable dishes, true risotto. In Hazan world you certainly have one hand tied behind your back if you don't have some trusty brodo in the fridge or freezer.**

So, finally, after at least a year of cautious examination, I decided to make the damn stuff. Boiled meat. With flesh on the bones. Some vegetables. No herbs. No spices except salt. Or are there? One benefit of cooking through this book over 15 years after its publication is that you can see what Marcella and her son have said in subsequent books. Up until Marcella Says, the recipe seems to be the same. In Marcella Says she throws a few things in that makes it more stock like such as bay leaves and black peppercorns. That sounded like a good idea to me. But first I had to get the meat.

Once again the butcher thought I was mad. No stock bones for me. No cheap cuts of veal. So I bought some braising steak, and some osso bucco meat. Not a cheap exercise, by McDonald's standards. But I guess it isn't McDonald's.

(Marcella does counsel that the 'active cook' can collect meat morsels from other dishes that can be frozen for use when Brodo Day comes. Alas I must not be such a cook as my freezer was bare).

So I threw it all in and I was away. The subtle variations of technique given by Marcella in her various books were a bit confusing. Would my broth end up watery? Would the meat cook properly? Should I leave the lid off (Essentials) or on (Says)?

I concluded it didn't really matter and just got on with it. For hours my creation simmered and bubbled, until I came to think of it as in some way being alive. In time it became increasingly meaty - not obviously delicious in the way a french chicken stock is, but meaty.

As instructed I dutifully ate the boiled meats for dinner when done, with a simple dressing of lemon, olive oil and pepper. With a salad. It was ok.

The brodo in all its glory was strained in a pasta strainer (not ideal), cooled a little on the bench, and ended up in the fridge. A layer of fat awaits, followed by beef broth ice cubes, and hopefully some tasty and quick Italian classics including a half decent risotto.

**Interestingly when I interviewed Marcella's son Giuliano Hazan he said he had none in his fridge. Just me and Marcella perhaps.

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