Serving Size: 20 six fl oz
Preparation Time: 1:00
1. Off the fire, in a heavy pot (a Wearever 4109 is ideal) whip the egg whites frothy, and add the cold strained stock. Mix well to dissolve the egg whites.
2. Add the lean ground beef, and stir well with a wooden spoon, so that it is broken up and well distributed in the stock. Lumps are counter productive, so take your time with this.
3. Add all remaining ingredients, and stir well.
Your consomme is ready to go on the fire, but let us pause to review the role of each ingredient The stock is the base of the soup. If you begin with a poor stock, you cannot expect a good result. The egg whites are to clarify, 1 lg. egg white per qt plus 1 extra per gallon. The lean ground beef clarifies from the serum albumen, and the meat gives deep flavor. For a chicken consomme, you can grind chicken thighs, bones and all. For a fish consomme, no meat is used. The mirepoix is for background flavor. If you have made a rich well balanced stock, it can be omitted. The tomato purée is for a richer brown color. It too can be omitted The aromatics and mushroom stems are for complementary flavor. Better to under-do them, except for the mushroom stems which you can use as much as 1/2 cup per gallon, with good result.
4. Now place the pot on a high flame. You can stir it with good result, making sure no crust forms on the bottom of the pot, until blood heat (no sensation of hot or cold) is reached. This is about 100 degrees F. The egg whites will begin to coagulate at about 120 -130 degrees F. You can see this happening at the sides of the pot, where whitish strands begin to appear. Turn the heat to medium. As the egg whites coagulate, they capture the ground meat and vegetable matter, along with minute impurities. This makes what is called the "cap" which is a mat of cooked egg whites, meat and vegatables. The meat is lighter than the stock, and so it rises to the surface, clarifying as it rises, You should take care not to let the stock boil through, and break the cap. As the cap is rising give the pot a quarter turn every ten minutes or so, to evenly distribute the heat.
5. After the cap has risen, and simmered for 45 minutes, you want to drain off the clear consomme with out breaking the raft, as it may release cloudy particles when disturbed. The best way is to do nothing! Let the soup cool and the raft will sink to the bottom of the pot, further filtering the liquid. I never had time for this, so with a metal spoon, I cut a hole in the side of the raft, so that I could ladle out the soup. When this becomes difficult, set up a new container with a strainer atop it, and carefully pour off the remainder. It may not be as clear as the first batch, but straining through washed cheesecloth may help. At work, I rarely made less than 5 or 10 gallons, and so I used a stockpot that had a drain on bottom, which made this very easy.
6. The consomme needs to be degreased. If you have the time, cover it with saran, and refrigerate it. Any fat will become hard, and easy to skim. If you must use it right away, paper towels over the top will skim the grease. Consomme should be completely free of any fat.
7. To finish the consomme, make it boiling hot, and add salt to taste. When you think it is right, pour some in a dish and add a pinch of salt. If it tastes better, you need more salt. Add white pepper very sparingly. Flame sherry or sherry and brandy mixed and add about 1 cup per gallon. Never add Maggi, Worstershire, or Kitchen Bouquet, as these products, imho, spoil the flavor. To intensify the color, I use a touch of mushroom (dark) soy, which is an entirely natural and good tasting ingredient.
8. Garnish as required.
Notes: Consomme is the king of soups, and is seen on every classical menu.
(This article originally appeared on Steve's "eGGsalad" blog on the electronic Gourmet Guide in 1997.)
The electronic Gourmet Guide launched in 1994 and later merged into the Global Gourmet website in 1998.Copyright © 1997—the electronic Gourmet Guide, Inc. All rights reserved.
Modified August 2007
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