Brodo at its Best
Tortellini in brodo may be a Christmas classic in many Italian households. And indeed, recipes like this one, are delicious. But this year, why not try something new? The recipes here begin with a delicious brodo, your own favorite, or one of ours, such as Meat Broth, Vegetable Broth, or Capon Broth. Then, instead of tortellini, they are garnished with all kinds of innovative and tasty little bites. Some, like the little puffs of pastry filled with fontina (find the recipe here) take almost as much time and love to make as fresh tortellini. Others, like silken pieces of tenderloin wrapped around truffle (fresh if you're lucky; truffle paste if you're frugal), take very little time to make (the recipe is here) but are nonetheless special and elegant and perfect for kicking off a New Year's Eve dinner.
Though these tasty additions would enrich even a lowly supermarket broth, they really deserve to be paired with a good, homemade brodo. The reward of making a brodo at home is a rich, clear broth with a subtlety of flavor that even the best store-bought versions do not provide.
There are a few tips to keep in mind to make the best brodo. Cook the broth at a very gentle simmer with just a few bubbles rising slowly to the surface. Not only does long and low cooking coax even subtle flavors from ingredients but boiling the broth almost guarantees it will be cloudy. (A cloudy broth might still taste good but won't show off the gorgeous accompaniment nearly as well.)
For the same reason, skim the foam and fat from the surface periodically as the broth cooks. To easily remove any lingering fat, refrigerate the broth and romove the fat from the top of the broth—it will form its own layer—once it has solidified. If the fat is not removed, the brodo won't taste as light and lovely and any subtle flavors will be obscured.
The broths highlighted above (Meat, Vegetables, Capon) each make about 3 quarts yet the accompanying recipes call for just 6 cups of brodo (about half the yield). That's good news for you. You have a few options: make a double batch of one of the recipe to feed a crowd; try one recipe now and one another night; or use the broth in other recipes. Indeed, homemade broth makes everything from risotto, to sauce to other soups taste better than when these same recipes are made with supermarket broth. Consider freezing leftover brodo in different amounts so you can grab just what’s needed from the freezer.
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