Kick off the new year and keep away the winter doldrums with caldo de oro (golden broth) from Two MICHELIN Star Californios’ chef Val Cantu. The warming broth is rich in saffron, shown to have antidepressant qualities, antioxidant-heavy chilis, and lemons bursting with vitamin C.
1 quart chicken stock
1 large pinch saffron, approximately 30 threads
1 dried chile pasilla mixe, or any dried chile you may have in your pantry (see note)
1 Meyer lemon, or any citrus you have on hand
1. Toast the dried chile in a dry pan over medium-low heat, until toasted and fragrant; cut the chile in half and remove seeds and veins (wear gloves)
2. Warm the chicken stock on medium heat in a saucepan
3. Add saffron and cleaned chiles to the stock and steep over medium-low heat for approximately five minutes (over-steeping the saffron can cause a metallic taste). Taste the broth at various stages so that when the broth reaches a level of spiciness you like, you can remove the chile while leaving the saffron to finish steeping
4. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into the broth and season with sea salt
5. Pour the broth through a wire mesh strainer, serve in your favorite coffee or tea cup, and sip slowly
Note: Chile pasilla mixes are a small, medium spicy smoked chile. A good alternative would be a chipotle, another smoked dried chile, guajillo, or chile California, would work as well. Dried chiles should be stored in an airtight container and kept dry. Toasting them in a pan or in the oven is an important step in unlocking the flavors and oils in the peppers.