Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Daring Kitchen - Stock-Soup-Consommé

This month's daring kitchen was almost as much science and magic as it was cooking!
Blog-checking lines: Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!

I started out by making beef stock.  I then turned that into French Onion soup.  We liked it so much that we used all stock and didn't have any left to try and make Consommé.  Peta also gave us an added challenge to make a side to go with our soups/consommés.  I bake fairly often so it's not really a challenge, so I decided to go with something different that I had never made from scratch - Caesar Salad.

I was very intrigued by the science of making consommé.
A consommé is usually (and traditionally) made by adding egg whites with ground meats or fish (no bones) and/or vegetables for flavour to a base of good quality stock. These solids form a floating mass called a 'raft', which is caused by the protein in the egg whites adhering to each other forming a fine matrix with many small cavities. The consommé is then gently simmering for 45 minutes to over an hour which percolates the liquid through the raft which captures and filters out the impurities of the liquid leaving a clear flavoursome consommé.
I really had very little belief that this was going to work. I made a second stock, chicken this time, for the sole purpose of making consommé. I caramalized more onions and finished them with Cognac.  I added that to my stock and reduced it, giving it a nice, rich flavour.

I then prepared my egg whites, cooked and cooled my ground meat, added in some crushed ice and poured the whole disgusting mess into my stock.  And I waited.  It took it a very long time to come back up to a simmer, and I don't think I ever got what I would call a "raft".  More of a floating, foaming, gross looking mound of ground meat.


But slowly the magic took over! I could start to see clear broth through the holes in my "raft".  After about 40 minutes of simmering I started to ladle out the consommé, very carefully!  I strained it through cheese cloth to catch any stray bits of egg and meat.


And Voilà ! I had made consommé.  Not only was it clear, it had the most delicious intense flavouring.

The difference between the stock and the consommé was amazing!


Be sure to check out all the other Daring Cooks Stock-Soup-Consomme posts at The Daring Kitchen.
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