Chicken Broth (Brodo di Pollo)

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Brodo simmering with carrots, celery, onion, etc. (in this case we're using a Capon instead of a chicken).

The best broths usually contain chickens that have been butchered with fully attached heads and feet; this little known fact was made abundantly clear to me when I asked my grandmother when she would be removing these parts after slaughtering chickens for a large family meal (I won’t elaborate on her response but you can take a guess).   The simple idea is that cooking the entire chicken produces the most flavorful chicken broth (Brodo di Pollo); in fact, our mother adds any bones available for her delicous chicken broth including capon (rooster) parts and, paradoxically, beef bones!

You can serve chicken broth as is (or either with any small pasta shape <even cut up angel hair> or tortellini).  At times, we add some shredded chicken to our brodo and some of the intact carrots (diced into small pieces).  You can also use brodo to make risotto, other soups, stews, etc.

Finished chicken brodo with pasta, carrots, and grated cheese.

Chicken Broth (Brodo di Pollo)
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Cook:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients
  • 2-3 carrots, diced roughly
  • 1 onion, diced roughly
  • 4-5 stalks of celery, diced roughly
  • 1-2 plum, Roma, or San Marzano tomatoes, diced roughly
  • 1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns
  • Parsley, chopped roughly
  • 4 quarts of fresh, filtered, water
  • 1 whole chicken (anywhere between 3.5-4.5 pounds) buy the best chicken you can afford as this ingredient will dictate how well your broth or brodo comes out

Process
  1. Roughly butcher the chicken into 8 pieces (11 if you’re lucky enough to have the head and feet), making sure to remove the skin and any unnecessary fat. Rinse with cold water and pat dry. Move all the ingredients into a large pot and cover; bring to a boil over a high flame. Once a boil is reached reduce the heat.
  2. Thereafter, simmer for 2-2.5 hours. Depending on the amount of fat in the chicken you may want to skim the excess fat from the top layer contained in the pot.

Notes
Makes about 4-5 quarts of broth. For the clearest broth, do not let the broth boil robustly and occasionally skim the surface as the soup simmers.

Finished chicken brodo with pasta, carrots, and grated cheese.

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  • Dr. K

    While a whole chicken will make for a delicious stock, this is not a very economical method unless you plan to consume the chicken later (in which case boiling it in this matter is not necessarily the best way to prepare chicken for eating). We prefer to cook and eat the chicken (e.g., roasted, spatchcocked and grilled, etc.), and to make stock using the leftover bones, back, neck, scraps, etc. The bones contribute gelatin to give the stock body, and any extra meat on the bones or added to the mix contributes additinal flavor. I would also add that when preparing stock you don’t want to add the vegetables until the last hour of cooking. Longer than that and they turn to mush and they absorb too much of the liquid. When you strain the solids out, if you try to press on the solids to squeeze out this absorbed liquid it will cloud your stock. The stovetop method works just fine, but I have long abandoned this for the oven method. Put your bones and any leftover meat in a big pot, cover with an inch or two of water, bring to a simmer on the stove and place it uncovered in a low oven (~180 degrees) for 3 or more hours or overnight. In the last hour of cooking, add your vegetables (onions and carrots are essential, beyond that you can vary as you see fit — bay leaves, celery, fennel, leeks, garlic, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, tomatoes or paste). Then strain out the solids without pressing on them, and filter the strained liquid through a cloth (cheesecloth or butter muslin). If not using right away, cool immediately and refrigerate for a few days (you can easily skim off the congealed fat on the surface once cooled) or cover well with plastic and freeze for a few months.

    • http://www.scordo.com/ Scordo.com

      Hi Dr. K.

      Oh, we consume the meat! We often include shredded dark and white meat in the brodo and thereafter serve it stand alone throughout the week with a good salad, bread, and maybe some fried potatoes. If you simmer a whole chicken, via this method, the meat will be cooked almost identical to a braise method (very tender, flaky, etc.).

      Good tips in terms of using the oven and firmness of vegetables. On the latter tip, you know how Italians prepare their vegetables (viz., cooked to death!).