Basic Ingredients

The mixture of ingredients we use to clarify a stock is called the clearmeat or the clarification.

Lean ground meat is one of the major sources of protein that enables the clear-meat to do its job. It also contributes flavor to the consommé.The meat must be lean because fat is undesirable in a consommé. Beef shank,also called shin beef,is the most desirable meat because it is high in albumin proteins as well as in flavor and gelatin, and it is very lean.

Beef and/or chicken meat are used to clarify chicken consommé. Meat is not used,obviously, to make fish consommé.Ground lean fish may be used, but it is normal to omit flesh altogether and use only egg whites.

Egg whites are included in the clearmeat because, being mostly albumin, they greatly strengthen its clarifying power.

Mirepoix and other seasoning and flavoring ingredients are usually included because they add flavor to the finished consommé.They do not actually help in the clarification, except possibly to give solidity to the raft.The raft is the coagulated clearmeat, floating in a solid mass on top of the consommé.

The mirepoix must be cut into fine pieces so it will float with the raft. A large amount of a particular vegetable may be added if a special flavor is desired, as in, for example, essence of celery consommé.

Acid ingredients (tomato products for beef or chicken consommé,lemon juice or white wine for fish consommé) are often added because the acidity helps coagulate the protein.They are not absolutely necessary—the heat will coagulate the protein anyway—but many chefs like to use them.

Pr rocedure for Preparing Consommé

Start with a well-flavored, cold, strong stock or broth. If your stock is weak, reduce it until it is concentrated enough, then cool it before proceeding, or plan on simmering the consommé longer to reduce while clarifying. Select a heavy stockpot or soup pot, preferably one with a spigot at the bottom. The spigot enables you to drain off the finished consommé without disturbing the raft. Combine the clearmeat ingredients in the soup pot and mix them vigorously.

Optional step: Mix in a small amount of cold water or stock—about 4 to 8 oz per pound (250 to 500 mL per kg) of meat—and let stand 30 to 60 minutes. This allows more opportunity for the proteins that do the clarifying to dissolve out of the meat.

Note:Chefs disagree on the importance of this step. Some let the mixture stand overnight in the refrigerator.

Others skip this step altogether. Check with your instructor.

Gradually add the cold, degreased stock and mix well with the clearmeat.

The stock must be cold so it doesn't cook the proteins on contact.

Mixing distributes the dissolved proteins throughout the stock so they can collect all the impurities more easily. Set the pot over a moderately low fire and let it come to a simmer very slowly.

Stir the contents occasionally so the clearmeat circulates throughout the stock and doesn't burn to the bottom. When the simmering point is approaching, stop stirring. The clearmeat will rise to the surface and form a raft. Move pot to lower heat so the liquid maintains a slow simmer. Do not cover. Boiling would break up the raft and cloud the consommé. The same principle operates in stock-making. Let simmer 1/2 hours without disturbing the raft.

Strain the consommé through a china cap lined with several layers of cheesecloth.

If you are not using a stockpot with a spigot, ladle the consommé out carefully without breaking up the raft.

Let the liquid drain through the cheesecloth by gravity. Do not force it, or fine particles will pass through and cloud the consommé.

Degrease.

Remove all traces of fat from the surface. Strips of clean brown paper passed across the surface are effective in absorbing every last speck of fat without absorbing much consommé. Adjust the seasonings.

Kosher salt is preferred to regular table salt because it has no impurities or additives that could cloud the stock.

Figure 9.1

Preparing consommé

Figure 9.1

Preparing consommé

(a) The stock is well mixed with the clarification ingredients and set on a burner to begin heating.

(b) The raft begins to rise to the top.

(c) The raft has almost completely formed. The consommé will continue to simmer for a total of 1/2 hours.

Emergency Procedures_

1. Clarifying hot stock.

If you do not have time to cool the stock properly before clarifying, at least cool it as much as you can. Even 10 minutes in a cold-water bath helps. Then, mix ice cubes or crushed ice with the clearmeat. This will help keep it from coagulating when the hot stock hits it. Proceed as in the basic method.

Finally, review your production planning so you can avoid this emergency in the future.

2. Clarifying without meat.

In a pinch, you can clarify a stock with egg whites alone. Use at least 3 or 4 egg whites per gallon (4 liters) of stock, plus mirepoix if possible. Great care is necessary because the raft will be fragile and easily broken up. Egg whites and mirepoix alone are often used for clarifying fish stocks.

3. Failed clarification.

If the clarification fails because you let it boil, or for some other reason, it can still be rescued, even if there is no time for another complete clarification.

Strain the consommé, cool it as much as you can, then slowly add it to a mixture of ice cubes and egg whites. Carefully return to a simmer as in the basic method and proceed with the clarification.

This should be done in emergencies only. The ice cubes dilute the consommé, and the egg white clarification is risky.

4. Poor color.

Beef or veal consommé made from brown stock should have an amber color. It is not dark brown like canned consommé. Chicken consommé is a very pale amber.

It is possible to correct a pale consommé by adding a few drops of caramel color to the finished soup. But for best results, check the color of the stock before clarification. If it is too pale, cut an onion in half and place it cut side down on a flattop range until it is black, or char it under a broiler. Add this to the clearmeat. The caramelized sugar of the onion will color the stock.

Consommé

Yield: 1 gal (4L) Portions: 16 Portion size: 8floz (250mL) 20 6 floz (250 mL)

U.S. Metric Ingredients

1 lb

12 tsp

500 g Lean beef, preferably shin, ground

Mirepoix, chopped into small pieces. 250 g Onion

125 g Celery

125 g Carrot

250 g Egg whites

250 g Canned tomatoes, crushed

6-8 Parsley stems, chopped pinch Dried thyme

1 Bay leaf

2 Whole cloves

2 mL Peppercorns, crushed

Procedure

1. Review the information on preparing consommé, page 211.

2. Combine the beef, mirepoix, egg whites, tomatoes, herbs, and spices in a tall, heavy stockpot. Mix the ingredients vigorously with a wooden paddle or a heavy whip.

5 qt

Beef or veal stock, cold (brown or white)

Add about 1 pint (500 mL) cold stock and stir well. Let stand about 30 minutes. (Optional step: see p. 211 for explanation.)

Gradually stir in the remaining cold stock. Be sure the stock is well mixed with the other ingredients.

Set the pot on moderately low heat and let it come to a simmer very slowly. Stir occasionally.

When the simmering point is approaching, stop stirring.

Move the pot to lower heat and simmer very slowly for about 112 hours. Do not stir or disturb the raft that forms on top. Very carefully strain the consommé through a china cap lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Degrease thoroughly. Season to taste.

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