A true Bravado chef makes a lot of things at home. We like to avoid things in bottles, cans and boxes with a lot of printing on them. While we won’t forget our classic dishes, in the coming weeks we will show you how to make three important ingredients at home – mayonnaise, wine vinegar and meat broth.
Let’s start with homemade broth (chicken or beef), which we will freeze into cubes. I can hear you now. You are saying (1) this sounds hard and (2) this stuff is very cheap in the store. Let’s dispose quickly of the first objection – we like hard, we crave hard, we live for hard. That may be one of the reasons that Bravado chefs enjoy 62% more sex.
Re: the second objection: Cheap means nothing if it kills you or, even worse, ruins a great dish. Store bought broth is often a thin, relatively tasteless liquid, laden with salt (even the “low sodium” varieties) and often contains substances that I have trouble pronouncing. And, we all remember one of Michael Pollan’s great rules (author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, “Food Rules” and many more) – “Don’t eat things that have stuff you can’t pronounce”.
The hardest part is getting the raw material, but once you get going, you will see that this even ceases to be a problem. Basically, you start by saving all bones and leftovers from meat or chicken dishes in ziplock bags in the freezer. For example, you can go back and make the recipe for Coq Au Vin and save all the bones. You can even keep stuff off of people’s plates – it doesn’t matter because you are going to cook everything for 3-4 hours and neither bugs nor cooties will survive.
Here is another easy way to get started. Go to your supermarket and buy a whole roasting chicken or two. (If you like organic, Costco has a two-pack of whole organic chickens that are great. Whole Foods often has sales on whole organic chickens, and you can find a surprising number of local sources by Googling “whole organic chickens” and typing in your city or town.)
Once you have cooked and carved the chicken, save the carcass, any other bones and all the scraps. You can put everything in a ziplock bag. I like to wait until I have a second chicken in order to make a really big batch.
Making the broth is very easy. Simply whack the carcass a few times with the biggest knife you have to break it up, throw it into a stockpot and follow the recipe below.
When you are all finished, you will have rich chicken broth with gelatin, body and flavor – with little or no sodium. Salt is used to preserve the broth, but since we are freezing it into cubes, we don’t need to add much.
The salt in processed foods quickly gets out of hand. One cup of the store bought chicken broth will typically have between 25-40% of daily requirements. To make risotto, you might easily use 4-6 cups and suddenly you have added a substantial amount of salt.
The recipe below is approximate. Basically, you can make a good broth with any vegetables you have left in the fridge. To make beef broth, just substitute beef for chicken. If you only have one chicken, cut the recipe in half.
Servings: about 14 cups
Level of Difficulty: 3.0 of 10
Time Required: 4 hours
2 chicken carcasses cut into three or four pieces with a large knife or, preferably, a cleaver.
4 quarts of water (or enough to cover everything in the pot plus 2 inches)
4 carrots, roughly chopped
4 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
2 onions cut into quarters
1 bay leaf
Handful of parsley or any other herb you like
Pinch of salt
Other veggies sitting in the fridge or in the cupboard such as tomatoes, peppers, scallions or potatoes.
- Throw everything in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to achieve a slow simmer. Cover with the top slightly ajar and cook for 3-4 hours.
- When finished, cool for about 5 minutes and then pour the liquid through a colander into a large bowl to strain the solids, which are discarded.
- Cool for another 10 minutes and put into the refrigerator overnight.
- The following day, using a small strainer, remove any fat that has collected on the top of the bowl and discard.
- Using two standard ice cube trays (you can still get these at hardware stores – about $1.50 apiece), ladle the broth into the trays and freeze. Put remaining broth back into refrigerator
- Put frozen cubes in large ziplock bags and keep in the freezer.
- Continue until all the broth is frozen. You should end up with about 100 cubes.
You will find that 7 cubes usually equal one cup of broth. So, if you need four cups (follow me closely now), you need 28 cubes. You can melt them relatively quickly in a saucepan over low heat; or, just throw them in whatever you are making.
You will enjoy the richness of the broth and they also make great gifts for friends.