Quick Bites from Pender

Beef Consomme: The Culinary School Method – Recipe

In Lessons From Cooking School, Recipes on February 12, 2010 at 5:01 am

beef-consomme

Garbage in, garbage out — in some cases, it works.  Kraft Dinner, Hot Rods and Sapporo Ichiban Ramen are all examples of trashy foods that I enjoy in the weaker moments. (Shocked?  No, I didn’t think so.)

Garbage in is not an option when you’re talking about consomme, though, so before we go any further, you should know that packaged stock isn’t going to cut it here.  It has to be strong, rich, homemade stock, or nothing at all.

So — you’ve got your beef stock.  I know, I know — that’s about 8 hours of work I just skipped over there.  But with enough stock, you can make consomme, demi-glace and glace de viande, as well as any number of fortifying soups — SO worth the effort.

Or, you could use this method to make chicken consomme.  Just substitute finely diced chicken breast or well-trimmed thigh meat (supermarket ground chicken WON’T work — plus, it’s really gross) and chicken stock.  That cuts your stock prep time by about half.  Options, people.  You always have options.

Next up is the clarification, which is what makes a stock or broth into consomme.  As it heats, the protein in the egg whites and ground meat coagulate and trap impurities suspended in the liquid, leaving a crystal clear, dark-amber nectar like no other.

As they solidify, the egg whites combine with the meat and mirepoix to rise to the surface and form a raft.  As the mixture simmers, the raft ingredients further flavour and enrich the consomme.  And that’s what keeps me coming back to this classic technique — even though it can seem like a lot of work to make what is, essentially, clear soup — the contrast between the delicate clarity of the consomme and its bold, strong flavour…Soul Feeding.

Serving suggestions include anything that shows off its transparency:  a brunoise of carrot, onion and celery in the bottom of the bowl, julienned crepes floating on the surface, or a simple green onion curl for garnish as I’ve done here.

ground-meatcrushed-peppercorns

consomme-clarificationclarification-cooked

Beef Consomme

Yield:  1 Quart/Litre (2 large or 4 small servings)

Egg Whites 3
Lean Meat, ground 6 oz 175 g
Onion, fine chop ½ medium
Carrot, fine chop ½ medium
Celery, fine chop 1 small rib
Tomato, seeded, fine chop 1
Beef Stock, cold 5 C 1.25 L
Bouquet Garnii, tied in cheesecloth (or in a tea ball) 10 peppercorns, 2 sprigs thyme, 6 sprigs parsley, 1 bay leaf
Salt + White Pepper TT

C=cup     oz=ounce     g=grams     L=Litres    TT=to taste

Whip the egg whites until slightly frothy.  Put the whites, meat, onion, carrot, celery, and tomato into a small stockpot and mix.  Add the stock to the pot and stir well, then add the bouquet garnii.

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the clarification from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  Stop stirring once the raft has begun to form on the stock’s surface.  Make a hole (chimney) in the raft’s centre as it forms; this allows the liquid to boil through the raft, extracting as much flavour as possible.

Reduce heat to ensure a slow simmer.  Do not allow to boil.  Simmer for 1 hour, then carefully strain through several layers of cheesecloth.  Serve immediately, or cool quickly, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Once you have poured the consomme into its serving bowls, remove any fat droplets that have accumulated by gently dragging the corner of a paper towel across the surface.

beef-consomme

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