Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tortellini en Brodo

Hey look!
An actual post about food!

This is a super simple choice for a quick meal, and I make it for myself for lunch whenever I can get my hands on the particular tortellini that I love.

Fun with Fisheye Effect
Quick backstory: I used to dislike this dish, but maybe it was because of the name.
And I don't mean "Tortellini en Brodo".
Growing up sometimes my mother would make this for dinner, and I don't know if it was because I didn't like the tortellini she chose (I'm quite fussy about my tortellini) or the chicken broth she bought, or maybe the onion flakes she added, but it just was not my favorite meal. 
It might also have had something to do with the fact that it was called "Sneaker Soup" in my family.
Why, you ask?
Well, I don't remember the entire episode, but I know that it involved my older brother playing Keep-Away with the babysitter, and the item kept-away was her sneaker.
And guess where he chose to hide her sneaker?
I don't know what we had for dinner that night, but Tortellini en Brodo became Sneaker Soup.
Moving on.

You can use any broth that makes you happy, and any type of tortellini that you prefer. There are so many options for fillings: various meats, 4-cheese, goat cheese, walnut & gorgonzola, spinach, pesto, lobster, mushroom... really you can make this uniquely different each time just by changing up either of the main ingredients.
My favorite, however, is Giovanni Rana's Tomato & Mozzarella Tortellini in homemade oxtail broth.
I swoon every time I have it, and it's so simple it's laughable.

This is by no means a hearty or beefy broth that I make. For that you need all kinds of other parts of the animal for depth of flavor as well as using a soffritto to start it all. Instead this is a very light, mostly clear,  uniquely flavorful broth that is undeniably beefy, but nothing like any beef broth you know.

The way I have been making this is as follows:

About 3lb. of oxtail or so

I trim any excess fat off the edges of the oxtails (it can be quite thick) and place them in the bottom of a soup pot and cover with water, maybe up to 2 inches above the layers of oxtails. Throw in a hefty pinch of salt and bring up to a boil, and then simmer anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.

Bear in mind that oxtails usually need to cook for at least 2 1/2 hours before eating, so after you make your broth you can throw the oxtails into a pot with the usual soffritto trifecta, and whatever else you like. Maybe some wine, veal or chicken or beef stock, tomatoes, whatever seasonings makes you happy, and braise them for another hour or two and still get a slightly thickened sauce upon reduction and tasty meal.
But recipes for that will come another time.

Once you have simmered the oxtails to flavor degree that pleases you, salt the water to taste and strain all the meaty and fatty bits out of it. (There will be quite a bit.)
If you really want an intense broth, you can bring the stock back to a boil after removing the oxtails and reduce it further. If you do that, do not salt it until after you have reduced it.

Once your broth is done, all you have to do is add a few tortellini (if fresh they cook in about 2 minutes) and place it in a bowl for devouring.
If you use a traditional chicken broth for your version, I suggest grating some fresh parmigiano reggiano over the top of your soup, as it will add a nice depth of flavor, and is rather traditional.
However you choose to make this, it's a light and quick meal or snack (once you have the stock made anyway...) that I hope you find comforting and delicious.
I might need to go back for seconds...


Sassy said...

I may actually attempt this... it looks too good to pass up, and I love me some tortellini.

Jennifer said...

At some point, I would love to get your take on matzo ball soup.

RocknRollGourmet said...

Una - I'm going to pretend you want to make this for reasons other than it only having 4 ingredients...

Jenn - I have never made matzo ball soup. Maybe I can tamp down my outter Shiksa and commune with my inner Meydl. (I had to look that up so I apologize if I misused my Yiddish.) I recently had some fabulous matzo ball soup in Philly that I'd like to recreate...