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Basic Homemade Meat Broth

March 17, 2010
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Let’s be honest. One of the reasons we make a whole chicken (or perhaps I should say, one of the reasons I like making a whole chicken) is because we can stretch that one purchase into several meals. After eating our chicken for dinner, the leftover meat became part of Will’s lunch the next day, while the bones went into a stockpot to become another dinner. The smell of a simmering homemade broth is such a cozy and comforting aroma welcoming anyone, whether a neighbor or your honey, into your home.

Looking through Marcella’s cookbook, I realized that although we are from the same Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, we have a very different approach to broth. I usually include onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and a bay leaf (with the meat and water, of course), while Marcella adds bell pepper, potato, and tomato and nixes the garlic and bay leaf. Her broth has a different depth of flavor to it than mine. You pick up on the pepper instead of the garlic. I also use a food mill to create a thicker broth while Marcella strains the broth for a thinner liquid. Marcella uses different kinds of meat, although when I made this, I just used the chicken and bones I had on hand (sorry, Marcella!). Again, just different methods for creating the same end result. If her broth is different from the one you usually make, please give it a try and let me know what you think.

Basic Homemade Meat Broth

From Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking



1 carrot, peeled

1 medium onion, peeled

1 or 2 stalks celery

1/4 to 1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, cored and stripped of its seeds

1 small potato, peeled

1 fresh, ripe tomato or a canned Italian plum tomato, drained

5 pounds assorted beef, veal, and chicken (the last optional) or which no more than 2 pounds may be bones


Put all the ingredients in a stockpot, and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Set the cover askew, turn on the heat to medium, and bring to a boil. As soon as the liquid starts to boil, slow it down to the gentlest of simmers by lowering the heat.

Skim off the scum that floats to the surface, at first abundantly, then gradually tapering off. Cook for 3 hours, always at a simmer.

Filter the broth through a large wire strainer lined with paper towels, pouring it into a ceramic or plastic bowl. Allow to cool completely, uncovered.

When cool, place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight until the fat comes to the surface and solidifies. If you expect to keep it any longer than 3 days, freeze it.

How to keep broth: It is safe to keep broth in the refrigerator for a maximum of 3 days after making it, but unless you are certain you will use it that quickly, it is best to freeze it. It’s impossible to overemphasize how convenient it is to always have frozen broth available. The most practical methods is to freeze it in ice-cube trays, unmold it as soon as it is solid, and transfer the cubes to airtight plastic bags. Distribute the cubes among several container so that when you are going to use the broth you will open only as many bags as you need.

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