January 13, 2011

Capelli d'Angelo in Brodo



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?

17 comments:

  1. Simple so satisfying. Amazing what a few ingredients and time will produce. You can't rush a good broth.

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  2. I love how there are only 3 ingredients! One of my favorite dishes from Italy is also a peasant dish (ribollita). So simple, but yet so hearty and delicious. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I'll take a big bowl of this soup and a biscuit (or 2) please :)

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  4. This is a LOVE-ly soup. You've put so much love in the making of this soup. Were those marrow bones in your first photo? Oh, how I love those. I love long simmered broths. What a wonderful recipe. Few ingredients, cooked with care = fantastic food.

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  5. Those bones are what the grocery store here calls "dog bones." They are full of marrow and goodness, but they aren't soup bones or marrow bones. Soup bones cost twice as much as dog bones. I don't understand it either.

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  6. All peasant foods are delicious, no matter what culture or country of origin. They may have been peasants, but they sure knew how to suck all the goodness out of whatever life gave them. Lessons to be learned there.

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  7. No, you certainly can't rush a good broth. And you can't get a good broth out of a can or box unless you made it yourself and put it there for later.

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  8. What a beautiful soup! I'll have to confess that when I buy those bones in the store I do give them to my dogs...Maybe next time I should buy extras to make stock?!?

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  9. Honestly, they aren't perfectly clean. But I figure they're going to be in a hot oven for 60-90 minutes and then sit in liquid that is 185° for 12-18 hours so any germs or bacteria that might be on them will be completely destroyed. When I'm finally done with them, I give them to visiting dogs. The dogs don't complain that I've used the bones, they're just happy to get them. Dogs are wonderful that way.

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  10. I love that you put the pot in the snow! I could totally do that!!!!! We definitely have enough of the white stuff.

    I got my calendar - thank you!!!!

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  11. I love that homemade broth ...there's no substitute for that.
    I would also love a few biscuits to go with that soup. :)

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  12. I'd certainly have a biscuit after the soup please. The tomato paste on the roasted bones is such a grand idea. The soup may be simple, but to me - this is food from the gods - one of my favorite meals.

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  13. I don't think of Italian rood as being this spare and almost...elemental, but I need to try this! That looks like one seriously flavourful broth and I just love your clarifying method!

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  14. I believe that we should use what nature provides for us, so since nature gave me snow, I used it. :-)

    Glad you got the calendar. You're welcome!

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  15. The tomato paste adds flavor and lots of color, particularly because it turns black in the oven. Looks burnt, but it isn't. Long, slow not-quite-simmering will suck all the flavor out of all the stock ingredients. It's one of those kitchen miracles.

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  16. MMMMMMMMMMMM this looks so delicious!!!

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  17. Yes please! When I read this post, I felt as though you were instructing me personally and I totally could pull this off. Excellent instructions! I love freezing stock and I really love amazing my family when I hear,"We don't have any [chicken, beef, etc.] stock so we have to make something else." I love pulling the appropriate stock from the freezer and graciously accepting the adoration from my family. :)

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