Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Commencing Clarification - Chicken Consommé

Consommé may be one of the most misunderstood soups.  It's utterly clear yet brims with intense flavor.  How is this possible?  Why is Consommé so much "thicker" than "stock"?

Put on your life preservers folks, it's time to go a rafting!

Consommé is simply stock that has been clarified by a mixture of ground meat, miripoix and egg whites.  This mixture is added to everyday regular stock then heat is applied.  In the process the mixture forms a "raft" on top of the stock... Through continued simmering, the "raft" combines with the impurities in the stock and traps them in the albumen from the egg whites.  It all sounds complicated.  But trust me, you don't need a degree in food science or advanced culinary education.  It's surprisingly simple

Chicken Consommé

6 cups (about 1.5 Liters) Chicken Stock
1 lb (600 g) ground Chicken
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 Celery stalk, finely diced
1 Leek, finely sliced
3 large Egg Whites
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
Tarragon Leaves

Pour the chicken stock into a pot.

In a separate bowl combine ground chicken and diced vegetables in bowl.

Add the egg whites.

Then mix everything together with a fork until you have a big "mess" in the bowl.

Spoon the mixture into the Chicken Stock.

Place the messy mixture over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stir while you are doing this.

You will notice as the temperature rises the chicken/vegetable mixture will begin to rise to the surface and form the "raft".

Once the mix starts to simmer, stop stirring and let the stock bubble up through the "raft", allowing the egg whites to trap everything.

Continue simmering for 30 minutes. (though you can push it to 45)
Remove from the heat and skim off the "raft" (you will want to discard this.  Don't feed it to your dog, cause it contains onion...  Yeah, it's leek but they are closely related, so don't take chances)

Once the raft has been removed, go ahead and pour the Consommé through cheese cloth to endure you have removed all the "bits" of coagulated egg white.

You should have about 5 cups of perfectly clear pale amber liquid.

And there you go...  An elegant Consommé.

You can refrigerate the Consommé in a sealed container for about 1 week.  Do not be surprised if you find that it has gelled.  It is higher in gelatin than normal stock giving consommé a more voluptuous mouth-feel. (it's a good thing) I am only saving out 1 3/4 cups for something else... But the rest was delicious!



Patti T. said...

I never really knew what consomme was, thank you so much for helping me to so thoroughly understanding it. My hubby would be totally aghast at me throwing away meat. I am sure it doesn't have a lot of flavor left to it after the process though.

Culinary Alchemist said...

Any time, Patti. ;)

You are correct. You are correct, the consomme absorbs most, if not all the flavor of the meat. and while this makes an intensely rich consomme, it leaves the raft tasting closely akin to cardboard.

That is part of the reason I don't make it that often. I suppose if you omitted the leek, it would be possible to feed it to your pets. I will have to experiment next time and see if I can come up with a solution to salvage the "raft" for human consumption.

Martha said...

This was very interesting. I'll bet this would prevent my homemade chicken stock from tasting so blah!
But what did you add to go from the clear,amber liquid (after simmering) to the creamy golden consomme in the soup bowl?

Culinary Alchemist said...

Martha - It's the color of the bowl that makes it look like it's "creamy' it's still clear in the last picture. I tried to adjust the lighting to produce a shadow in the bowl from the tarragon, but it didn't work too well. ;)

Spycook said...

Use the raft in a meatloaf and affines of ground meat & veggie food products. Work it up with some home made mayo (flavored any way you like).

Spycook said...

Oh, and there are other methods of clarification. I wrote a little about some on my post about consomme.