The world of cookery has its roots. So many times we look up above the place where a bush or a tree stands seen and obviously morphing. But without the nurturing world below… that provides succor to that organism we enjoy… this would not occur. I save the bones from whole chickens I butcher myself until I have a good enough batch to make a stock from. For a stock I often have to buy more chicken parts…. which I don’t mind at all… but for a broth I can also used the roasted carcasses of birds that we consumed and carved before freezing the structure that once held the flesh. It sounds barbaric and I smile. I have not lost that I am partially primitive still…but I can justify it if my end result is the soft, nurturing, life-enhancing goodness of broths. 

Go slow… enjoy the process. And be adaptive. The fairly fast rules of making a stock are loosened when making a broth. I am usually making a smaller quantity of broth than I am when I’m making a full batch of stock. So I don’t think of it as being better to keep a kind of neutrality that I might with the bigger yields. I might only be getting one or two meals out of that broth so if I want to go with the odds and ends of my fridge I sure as hell can. I don’t usually use ginger and scallions in my standard chicken stock. But this is a broth. And this is today. And this is the mood I have woken up in. I want to let the ingredients I have on hand guide me … not a recipe like scripture.

Once I finished glazing some of my chosen vegetables in a mix of olive oil and sweet butter … and getting my raw carcasses roasted and then joined with the bird frames of those from the Sunday dinner’s cooked birds all in the pot I add the water and then a slow dance begins. Really slow at first. To the point where you think it is not even moving. I put my face down by that broth and watch it like one would an aquarium. It’s fragrance holds me even if the action is not quite vital for a while. And then … a bubble comes up from the mosaic of bones, vegetables, skin, herbs, spices and nearly clear water. It floats up from near the bottom like a long forgotten memory coming from an untroubled day in childhood. It breaks open up on the surface and spreads a sweet nectar into the morning air.

This broth creation is a pond of proteins conjoined with an amalgam of garden… and I am the fisherman and the forager. A papery garlic husk bobs to the surface and bumps into the protuberance of a caramelized chicken wing. The celery announces itself through aromas quite different than those of the onion. Most compelling perhaps are the globules of golden fat that form in various circumferences on the topmost layer of my temperature rising pot of broth. A puff of steam suddenly animates the world above the liquid. There is now an exchange above the waterline. A signal that through heat … the animation of interchange and exchange is going to render flavors more complex than those sampled from a soup spoon ten minutes earlier. What was essentially water is evolving.

And it is magical, glorious, beautiful broth.


© 2019 Norman Van Aken

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