So what shall we make today? Sweet or savory? How about something agrodolce? There's another word for your Italian Language Culinary Terms. Agrodolce can mean, 'sweet and sour,' but also 'bittersweet.' I was thinking something along the lines of a restorative and refreshing Summer Consommé, elemental comfort food.
Gallina vecchia fa buon brodo.
An old hen makes the broth tastier.
(indicating the implicit qualities of older women)
–– Italian proverb
A clarified meat broth is about as sexy as soup can get. Consommé can be served hot or cold, and is variously used as a soup or sauce base. A 'double consommé' has been reduced until it is half the volume (hence having twice the flavor) of regular consommé.
In a stunning mountain resort in Valle d'Aosta I was fed this divine brodo on a very hot summer of a few years ago. The agrodolce flavor combination was overwhelming in its simplicity.
Tie your apron strings and assmeble:
Assorted beef bones
300 g (1 1/2 cups) veal rump
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and halved
1 celery rib, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 potato, peeled and halved
1/2 cantaloupe melon
In a large stockpot, boil 4 quarts of lightly salted water with meats, bones and vegetables for at least 1 hour.
Drain using a cheesecloth-lined colander, and boil uncovered for an additional 45 minutes, or until the broth is reduced to half the quantity. You may have to remove some resulting fat off the surface with a skimmer, or not, if your chosen meat cuts were particularly lean. Correct seasoning if need be.
Carve mini balls out of the melon with the appropriate ball cutter implement and set aside, do not refrigerate and resist from eating.
When you're ready to serve the consommé, plunge the melon balls in the bowl and be blessed by the sweet cold fruit swimming in the savory warm restorative elixir.
Some idiomatic Italian phrases containing the b-word:
- Tutto fa brodo means "it's all grist for the mill," or every little bit helps (literally, you can make broth with everything).
- While another expression Lasciar cuocere qualcuno nel suo brodo, means to let someone stew in one’s own juice.
Image credits: Binette & Jardin - Un chef dans ta cuisine