Friday, December 28, 2012


consomme with vegetables
Consommé with Vegetables
Now you have to admit, this - looks - good! 

Consommé is not stock or bouillon, rather it is made from stock and bouillon.

Consommé is created by the proper clarification of a high quality stock by adding a mixture of finely ground meats with mirepoix, a combination of carrots, celery and onions, along with tomatoes and egg whites into either a bouillon or a stock. To make a high quality consommé the secret is simmering; the act of simmering combined with frequent stirring starts the process of  bringing impurities to the surface of the liquid, which are further drawn out because of the presence of acid in the tomatoes. 

After a while solids will begin congealing at the surface of the liquid forming a 'raft' which is created by proteins, including albumins, mucoproteins and globulins, in the egg whites. Once the 'raft' begins to form reduce the heat and do not stir but carefully poke a hole in the raft so the stock can work its way around it. The stock is simmered  at a lower heat until it reaches the desired flavor and all the impurities come out of it, this takes anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour. The result is a clear and very flavorful liquid that will have a rich amber color for beef or veal, or a very pale yellow color for poultry consommé. 
Poultry Consomme
Poultry Consommé
Carefully lift out the raft and pour the consommé through a filter to ensure its purity. If visible fat remains it can be skimmed from the surface with a paper towel. For complete purification, refrigerate the consommé to draw out any remaining fat that can be easily removed with a piece of cheesecloth. Another method involves pouring the consommé into a large bowl, cutting wide strips of parchment paper to carefully drag over the surface of the consommé, any tiny amounts of fat that are left will adhere to the parchment leaving you're consommé perfectly degreased. When mixing the mirepoix, the cartilage and tendons in the meats you use should be left on the meat because of the gelatin they contain, this greatly enhances the mouth-feel of the soup you are creating. When using beef or veal to create the part of the raft, shin meat is ideal; apart from being very low in fat, its also very high in gristle. This is essential for the flavor of a good consommé. The meat should be ground very fine.

Consommés are served piping hot because they are a thinner variety of soup so they lack the ability to retain their heat and cool down far more quickly than other soups, forming a gel in place of soup. More often than not, they served with garnishes that vary in complexity from a splash of Sherry or egg yolk to cut veggies, or they can be shaped into savory custards. In the 1700s they were made and used in cooking to enhance the flavor of other, daily-served dishes. Stock, Bouillon and Consomme's were always on hand and at the ready for cooking almost any dish. Along with prepared stock, consommé was used to create a beverage similar to what we know today as coffee.
Latte Art
Latte, as we know coffee today
It takes a large quantity of meat, bones and vegetables to create a high quality stock that will be used to yield only a small amount of consommé. When making the stock do not add any spices or flavorings, that will come after the consommé is made; if high quality meat, bones and fresh vegetables are used in the stock you may not need to add anything as the flavor of these will be enough.


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