The following typical "Italian Brodo" (broth) recipe forms the basis of many Italian soups and sauces such as Tortellini en brodo, Passatelli, Minestrone, Ribollita and Ragu Bolognese, among others. You can substitute equal parts chicken broth and beef broth, but if you have the time and the inclination it is worth the effort. It can be frozen (in smaller increments) for later use.
- 4 lbs. stewing beef cut up (chuck or round or beef shanks)
- 2 marrowbones or oxtail
- 4 lbs. chicken cut up (look for a flavorful stewing or roasting chicken instead of a fryer if available, or maybe backs and necks
- 1 lb. veal (cut up)
- 2 turkey drumsticks
- 1 ½ medium to large onions, cut up (no need to dice)
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut up or sliced lengthwise into quarters
- 4 celery stalks, cut up or sliced lengthwise in half
- Small rind of parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano) cheese**
- 2 Roma tomatoes cut up (or a 16 oz. can of peeled Italian tomatoes)
- A Bouquet garni* of 1 bay leaf, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, a few sprigs of Italian parsley, 1 whole clove and a few peppercorns.
- Salt to taste.
*A bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs and or spices tied up in a cheesecloth bundle which can then be easily removed once the brodo is finished cooking.
** It is a good idea to keep these rinds of the cheese in the freezer to add to sauces, soups or broths. The rind adds a certain “umami” depth of flavor.
In a large stockpot place all of the meat, the bouquet garni, the rind of cheese, in water to cover by about 1 inch. There is no need to brown the meat first, because this will not be a brown stock.
Cook over a medium high heat to just below boil skimming the surface as the fat and impurities rise. Lower the heat to a slow simmer add vegetables and cover. Cook for 2-3 hours. (The longer it cooks, the more flavor will be extracted from the meat, bones and vegetables.)
Remove the meat and the vegetables, and strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer, chinois, or through two layers of cheesecloth.
Add salt to taste*. Skim the fat from the top or to make this easier, cool the broth and refrigerate it overnight so that the fat can congeal on the surface.
*At this point there is no salt in the broth, so the amount of salt will depend upon whether you are serving this as soup or as an ingredient in another dish, in which case you may want to limit the amount of salt.
The cooked meat may be used as a base to make meatballs, or filling for tacos, enchiladas or anything else you can imagine.