January 13, 2011
Capelli d'Angelo in Brodo
by Gareth Mark
Capelli d'Angelo in Brodo is a classic soup, its peasant origins clear. Bring some broth to a boil, add Angel Hair pasta, cook until just done, let rest, and serve with a generous grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It's the thing to make when your pantry is down to a few bones, a bit of flour, and some cheese.
There are only three ingredients, so you'd better use the very best or the one you skimped on will ruin the dish. Unless you make your own cheese, get genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you don't want to make your own Capelli d'Angelo--who can blame you?--buy the best you can find. Obviously, the brodo is completely your responsibility.
Start with the bones. Beef or veal bones make great stock, and will make a great brodo as well. Squeeze some tomato paste onto each bone from your handy tube of imported Italian tomato paste. Spread it over the bones with your fingertip or a spatula. Roast in a 350° for an hour or so, until you can smell the aroma of roasted bones throughout the house.
Next, you'll need some chicken. A leftover roasted chicken carcass will do quite well, as will a fresh whole chicken. If you're starting with a fresh chicken, put it into a pot large enough to hold it with plenty of room to spare. Cover with cold water, set on the heat, and bring to a boil. Let boil for ten minutes, then remove the chicken. Throw away the water. Rinse the chicken carefully with cold water to stop the cooking and to clean it of all scum. It's now ready for stock making.
Put the chicken and roasted bones in a large stock pot. Feel free to add the fat from the sheet pan used to roast the bones because you'll be cleaning the stock later and the fat will add flavor. Gather some carrots, leeks, celery, and an onion or two. Peel the onion(s) and stick a few whole cloves into them. Cut the leeks, carrots, and celery into fairly uniform pieces. Make sure the leeks are clean, then cut the dark green leaves off--set them aside for the moment. Put the aromatic vegetables into the pot with the chicken and bones.
Next take the dark leek leaves and use them to hold a bay leaf or two and several sprigs of parsley. Tie the leaves closed with kitchen twine. Drop that bundle into the pot. The reason you want to do this is because the parsley would break down if not wrapped, which makes the stock hard to clarify.
Cover everything in the pot well with cold water and set the pot on medium-low heat. Meanwhile, set your oven to a low temperature--185° is ideal, 200° is the highest acceptable temperature. As soon as the pot heats up but before it starts to simmer put it into the oven for 12-18 hours. Do not cover.
It's really important when making stock or brodo to avoid stirring and boiling. Both actions cause emulsification of the fat in the water, leading to a muddy stock and a greasy taste. Doing stock in the oven is the gentlest method for stock-making, and it produces wonderfully rich and clean broths.
When you remove the stock from the oven, carefully lift the bones, chicken carcass, and aromatic vegetables out using kitchen tongs. Again, avoid disturbing the stock to the extent possible. Don't worry about getting everything, just get all the large pieces.
Cool the stock as rapidly as possible. I find that a deck full of snow works well. Failing that, ice water is the best choice. An excellent option is to take the stock pot to the bathtub and fill the tub with cold water.
Once the stock has chilled overnight (yes, I covered it and left it out in the snow overnight--it was colder than the refrigerator) skim all the fat off the top. Then carefully strain the stock. If you have straining cloths, they work best. Cheesecloth also works well, but you'll need to strain through multiple layers of cheesecloth for the best clarity. You could also make a raft...but that's a lot of work and would require a whole post by itself.
If you've been careful, you'll now have a clear, clean, well-flavored stock, or brodo. Make some soup, freeze the rest in quart containers. It's your best friend.
Was there a lot of meat on the chicken? Pick it off, put it into a quart jar or freezer container, cover with stock, and refrigerate for 1-2 days or freeze for 1-2 months. When you need some chicken meat for soup, or chicken salad, or pot pie, you have it, and it will be nice and juicy because it's been sitting in stock.
I feel like making biscuits. Want some?