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Capon Broth Recipe: An Italian Classic of Christmas

Capon Broth Recipe: The Bolognese Festive Broth For Tortellini

I love broth. And you?

The classic meat broth, perfect to make soups, risotto and minestre in broth or to cook a roast and that, especially during the coldest days, is to me a comfort food that I eat hot in a cup. Then the vegetable broth that I make in season and I use as a base for many preparations such as vegetable cream, and again, soups and risotto.

And, of course, capon broth. Among all the most special because it is the broth of the Christmas lunch, the broth where tortellini are cooked and served.

Capon Broth Recipe: An Italian Classic of Christmas

The capon broth

In Italy, when we talk about brodo di cappone (capon broth), it’s not just any chicken broth. Here, we use the meat from the capon, the castrated rooster (usually under one year old), which is a fatter, softer meat. This is the broth that is used to cook fresh pasta such as tortellini (in Emilia) or cappelletti (if you’re in Romagna).

At Christmas time, the homemade tortellini cooked in brodo di cappone is a fixture at the Christmas lunch, and usually (at least in a lot of Bolognese family), everyone’s favorite dish. I guess that’s why it’s considered such a comfort food, I know that a great cup of broth always makes me feel better.

This broth requires a long cooking time (which is what makes it so good) and just a bit of work, but, it’s all worth it when we see the smiles on family and friends faces when it comes to the table.

The Christmas broth was delicious, as well as the leftovers of capon that nonna put aside for the sandwiches of December 26, the day appointed to finish all the leftovers of the previous day. I also use the leftovers of lesso or bollito meat or capon to make sandwiches and recently it gave me great satisfaction to make a Club Sandwich with capon’s leftovers.

Buona cucina,

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Food Tips

  • the secret to a good broth is that it must never boil during the cooking, except for 1 minute!
  • some people like to add the rind from a piece of parmigiano cheese or a fresh tomato to their broth. Personally, I don’t do either, the cheese rind could make the broth too salty (the best is to add the sea salt at the end of cooking), and the tomato could add a sour taste. In the end, it’s up to your personal preference and traditions
  • once you turn off the heat, I suggest removing the bones and vegetables immediately, both to prevent the meat from overcooking, and to avoid that the broth becomes too salty
  • leave the broth to cool down in an already cool place. I prefer the terrace for instance, over the refrigerator. The low temperature will help the fat solidify, making it easier to remove
  • you may conserve the broth in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days, or you can freeze it
  • when you prepare pasta cooked in the broth, if you have any leftover that doesn’t make it to the plate, remove the pasta from the broth immediately so that it doesn’t over cook.

Capon Broth Recipe

serves 4
about 3 liters of broth

capon leg quarter, 1 piece
2 beef bone
one yellow onion
stalk of celery with leaves, one
carrot, one


As long as the broth simmers (but does not come to a boil), you’ll still obtain just a little less than 3 liters of broth (based on the initial 3 liters of cooking water).

Clean all of the vegetables and leave whole all of them but remove the onion peel.

Put everything in a large, tall pot and add 3 ½ liters of water. Start out with low heat for a few minutes, then raise the heat to medium until boiling.

Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 3 hours without stirring, and with the lid cracked. Turn off the heat, remove meat and vegetables, cover and leave to cool down.

Once it has cooled down, remove the fat with a slotted spoon, and filter the broth at least 3 times using a simple strainer. Taste the broth, and add a bit of salt if needed.

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