Friday, December 16, 2005

Mr. Brodo, Mr. Brodo!

From Monday to Wednesday this week, I had a much-needed three days off work, and decided that it really was time to do one of those time-consuming recipes for stock from Cooking in Advance that require hours of boiling.

204. Italian Broth

This one's not quite as time-consuming as the consommé (coming soon), as it only takes three hours to boil, and not seven. Nigella says it "provides a fragrant liquid base for tortellini or gnochetti di semolino (see below) or any other manner of culinary punctuation... It is also, pre-eminently, designed to make divine risotti".

The recipe says to boil a beef flank, 2 ossobuchi and a chicken carcass in water with assorted vegetables for three hours, skimming every hour, and a few times in between. I didn't know what a beef flank was, but I googled it, and discovered that it's a tough yet flavoursome, cut of beef. I was sick of asking my butcher for weird cuts of meat, so I just used the spindly bits of frozen oxtail that have been sitting in my freezer for the past few months.


Then it's just a matter of straining it and letting it get cold so you can skim off the fat. I made this on Tuesday, and left it in the fridge until Thursday night, which is when I planned to eat it.

But how to serve it? I was definitely going to take Nigella’s suggestion and make the semolina gnocchi, but that wouldn’t be enough for a whole meal. So I decided to make a risotto as well. I've already made all the risotti recipes in How to Eat (2 mushroom, 1 pea), and even though they were all delicious, I wanted a risotto that wasn't too strongly flavoured, so as to show off the flavour of the broth. I've heard rave reviews of Nigella's Ligurian Risotto (from her "At My Table" column in the New York Times), and decided that that one would be perfect.

Back to the broth... this is what it looked like on Thursday evening.

Solid fat - mmm... tasty. I removed the fat with a lot of kitchen paper. Then I put it on the stove to heat up as I made the gnochetti.

205. Gnocchetti di Semolino (Cooking in Advance, even though they don't need to be cooked in advance)

I'm not really a huge fan of the traditional potato gnocchi that you get in restaurants, I always find them dense, heavy and filling, and they sit uncomfortably in my stomach for hours afterwards. However, of these potato-free gnocchi, Nigella says that "these are light, puffy things", so I wasn't too apprehensive. It's hot milk, with semolina whisked in, followed by an egg yolk, butter, parmesan cheese, nutmeg and a whisked up egg-white.

gnocchetti mixture

Then you just drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture into the hot broth, and let them cook. (They're done once they rise to the surface). Nigella says they take 10 minutes, but I found that they took much less time. They looked pretty messy. I suppose you could go all fancy and make quenelle shapes, but I don't really see the point because the mixture is quite sloppy and difficult to work with anyway.


I let my family eat the soup at the table, while I ate mine at the stove, busily preparing the risotto. The gnocchetti were really good! They were light and puffy, and the cheese gave them a lovely, salty flavour, which is so much better than the bland shite gnocchi that I'm used to. And the soup itself was heartwarming and nourishing.


So the ligurian risotto is very simple - just an ordinary risotto with pecorino cheese grated in at the end, and served with fresh basil and toasted pinenuts.


Ligurian Risotto

It was beautiful! And I think it was the right risotto to show off the home made broth. I have about 1.5 litres of the stock leftover, which I've frozen, so I'll be able to make another risotto with it. Woohoo!


Ilana said...

God I love risotti!! Especially that one!
Mmmmmm. Made it the other night as well, and the night following that I made the arancini which I posted on MSN. Have a look! And when (if) you get leftover risotto, this is a good way of using it up!
Great job!!

cin said...

Sarah, the gnochetti sounds just like gnocchi alla romana but with a different shape:
I first had this from a deli in Venice several years ago and loved it so much! I tried to find it in Melbourne after returning to no avail :-(
Maybe at Chez Sarah then?

Sarah said...

Yeah Cin,


xox Sarah