Broth, Italian Army, 1930-1945
The Italian military’s doctrine for making broth (il brodo) varied from that of many foreign armies in leaving the meat in large pieces, adding it to water that was already simmering, and not cooking the meat to the point of disintegration. It was felt that to cut the meat into smaller pieces and placing in a pot with cold water resulted in a product that was "indigestible, stringy and tasteless".
This recipe is scaled for 4 servings, and will yield about 3 quarts (3 liters) of broth. If you are cooking a larger amount, the meat should be cut no smaller than 1 to 1.5 kg (about 2-3 pound) pieces. Use a less expensive cut of beef with the bone in, such as chuck or shank. If you are using large cuts of beef or large soup bones, split any large bones that may not have the marrow exposed. Trim any excess fat.
The boiled meat was removed and used for other recipes, and the broth strained and used for soups, stews, rice dishes, etc.
Many European armies, including the British and French, used caramel to give a darker color to stocks and broths. It was optional in this Italian recipe, but nevertheless I have included the Italian military recipe for caramel.
US Metric Ingredients
28 oz 800 g meat (preferably beef)
84 fl oz 2.5 liters water*
5 tsp 27 g salt
2-3 each 2-3 each cloves, whole
1.5 oz 40 g onion, roasted (1 small or ½ medium onion)
1.5 oz 40 g celery (1 medium celery stalk)
1.5 oz 40 g carrots (1 medium carrot, scraped)
½ oz 12-14 g parsley, fresh
Add a little tomato paste (about 2-3 tbsp/20 g), tomato sauce or some fresh tomatoes, just enough to give the broth some color.
Optional: add one bay leaf (laurel), a sprig of thyme, or a few leaves of fresh basil, and 1-2 tbsp caramel for coloring.
*If necessary, add just enough additional water to cover the meat.
1. Peel and roast the onion in an oven or on a grill until it begins to take on a light golden brown color. Stick the cloves into the onion.
2. Put the water into a pot over high heat.
3. Add the salt.
4. Rinse the meat rapidly in cold water.
5. Put the meat in the pot when the water is almost boiling. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
6. Add to the broth the onion, celery, carrot, parsley and tomato. If using, bay, thyme, basil and caramel, add them at this point.
7. Skim (with a perforated ladle) any impurities that come to the surface.
8. Simmer the broth while keeping the pot covered.
9. Cook until the meat is tender, about 1½ to 2 hours. Do not overcook. Remove the meat when it is still a little al dente.
10. Remove the meat and add enough water to fill the pot to the level it was at before the meat was removed.
11. Strain the broth.
Caramel, Italian Military, 1930-1945
Yield: 16 fluid ounces (or 500 ml)
In a very clean pan over medium heat, put 4 ounces (125 grams) of sugar and let melt slowly while stirring constantly with a wooden spatula. Cook until the sugar has taken on a dark red color, not blackened. At this point add 16 fl oz (500 ml) of cold water, keeping it over medium until the sugar is completely dissolved in the water. Let it cool and keep in a tightly covered bottle to use as needed.
(Note: I have rounded down the amount in US measurement, for the sake of convenience.)