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On Consommé


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#1 eGCI Team

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Posted 21 August 2003 - 05:49 PM

Please post your questions here

#2 Chad

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Posted 22 August 2003 - 08:45 AM

Jack, nice lesson!

I have three questions. First, you use chicken rather than ground beef in forming your raft. I've always understood ground beef (and leeks) to be the traditional method. What's the advantage of chicken?

Second, does the size of the pot matter? I've made stock for years but never tried a consomme. I'd assumed that I'd have to use my stock pot and was afraid that the raft would be spread too thin with the small amount of stock I make. Never occured to me to use a saucepan. Duh. But can the pan be too narrow, leading to an overly thick raft?

Third, the Royales are very cool. I have to admit, I've never seen those before. I really want to try them. There seems to be a transition missing in the instructions. After you whiz the cooked chicken and bechamel, do you then add these to the cream and egg custard mix described below or are these two different methods for making the royale?

Thanks again,
Chad
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#3 jackal10

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Posted 22 August 2003 - 09:25 AM

1. Beef is certainly traditional for beef clarification of beef stock. The difficulty is to get fat-free beef. Fat is the enemy of clarity, as I said. I find it much easier to use skinless and boneless chicken breast which is easily available and cheaper, and if the stock is well made you can't tell the difference in meaty flavour. Many add vegetables to the reduction, but I follow Escoffier and prefer to add the vegetables when making the stock. The table of names gives additons to the clarification for particular consommes - tomato paste for colour for Consomme Carmen, for example.

2. A tall narrow stewpan is traditionally used for clarification but I don't think it makes that much difference. You don't want too much surface area to minimise evaporation.

3. Ooops. For the Royale I should have said just mix it all together before straining it into the mould. Having whizzed the chicken, I just bung in the eggs and the cream, blitz briefly and strain out the lumps...

You can make a pure cream Royale (Deslignac, used in Consomme Deslignac), The proportions are 1 whole egg and 6 yolks to 1 pint cream: enough for about 12 servings

Edited by jackal10, 22 August 2003 - 09:26 AM.


#4 fifi

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 05:34 PM

I just went through the lesson. I have to confess that I did it because I had nothing else to do at the moment (waiting for onions to caramelize) and originally didn't have much interest. "I will never really want to make consomme!" Uh... I think you have changed my mind. I have some beef glace in the freezer that might have to come out and become consomme.

Many thanks for the inspiraton.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#5 Chad

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 09:04 PM

I just went through the lesson. I have to confess that I did it because I had nothing else to do at the moment (waiting for onions to caramelize) and originally didn't have much interest. "I will never really want to make consomme!" Uh... I think you have changed my mind. I have some beef glace in the freezer that might have to come out and become consomme.

Many thanks for the inspiraton.

I, too, am going to try the consomme. I've never really had any interest in it before. I've considered making consomme from my stocks before, but only as an experiment to see if I could do it. This reluctance is probably because I don't have a lot of experience with consomme as a diner. I was served a chilled consomme once when I was a kid. At that point I was not ready for a chilled soup. Soups were supposed to be hot. It was just too weird for me to enjoy.

Now that I'm a witty, urbane sophisticate :rolleyes: I'm ready to try my hand at consomme.

Then I'll inflict it on my kids! Bwahahahaha!!!

Chad
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#6 jackal10

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 12:02 AM

Let me recommend, for a first attempt to keep the garnishes and flavourings simple - maybe just add a glass of Maderia, Port or Sweet sherry if one is to hand.

If you tell the kids its got booze in it ("sherry soup") soup, I bet they will go for it...

Let us know how you get on

Edited by jackal10, 24 August 2003 - 12:24 AM.


#7 fifi

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 09:05 AM

Chad brought up a good point. I can't think of when I have seen consomme on the menu at a restaurant. I haven't been to the really high end places that get mentioned here so I am really curious. Does it ever show up? It seems, to my imagination, that consomme would make an amazing starter for a complex meal.

Chad... You owe it to yourself to feed those kids consomme. :laugh:
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#8 Suzanne F

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 09:02 AM

Another website where I'm involved had a question about lobster consomme -- from the way the situation was described, the whole process was rushed, the ingredients for the raft -- in themselves insufficient, just egg whites and mirepoix -- were added to the stock AS IT INITIALLY cooked, all kinds of bad behavior.

Granted, making consomme is not really labor-intensive, but it can be time-consuming. Have you any hints for speeding up the process?

#9 jackal10

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 09:36 AM

I would not think that adding the raft as the stock cooked would work. The stock ingredients would overwhelm the raft.
I'm not sure it is that time consuming of itself. Certainly less time consuming than making demi-glace from stock. The time consuming step is making the decent stock in the first place, and in a high end restaurant that is a necessary process anyway, besides being a use for trimmings etc. For a home cook making and reducing stock is more like a once every few months activity, using trimmings etc that have accumulated and been frozen, and then freezing the concentrated result.

From a stock base, making consomme is not a long or complex process, and mostly unattended. Whizzing chicken and egg whites, and then belnding with the stock is at most a few minutes. The stock then sits unattended for half an hour to an hour, and the is filtered - say ten minutes, so the actual work is not more than 15mins or so,

Furthermore it can be done well in advance, or even a day or two before. For a restaurant it is an easy dish, since all it needs is reheating and the pre-made garnishes put in the plates. For a home cook for a dinner-party it can be done in advance, and it is one less dish to worry about. That said, it is transparent in flavour as well as visually and has to be done carefully as it will show up any faults in the ingredients or stock making.

I agree with fifi. I don't know why it is not a more popular high-end restaurant dish. It fits into a restaurant regime well. It is economical. It shows off the kitchen's skills, very versatile, and it is light and suitable for Atkins and low fat diets. A seperate wine (such as a good fino sherry, or a sercial Maidera can be sold with it).

More Consomme!

Edited by jackal10, 25 August 2003 - 09:36 AM.


#10 gus_tatory

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 08:19 AM

thanks for the lesson, jackal10~! :biggrin:

i love brothy soups of all descriptions, and so am very likely to be trying this out. i also usually have some stock in the fridge, so have the base ingredients.

question: are quenelles as "flexible" as gnocchi, like if i have spinach and parmesan, can they be customized that simply? and wow--it just occurred to me that a bit of ground walnuts or hazelnuts might be gorgeous with spinach and parmesan quenelles...

thanks a lot!
gus
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#11 Mottmott

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 08:41 AM

I'm looking forward to making consomme after the eGCI's hectic schedule is over.

I hope this thread will not be sealed too soon as I'm sure I'd like some input. I've just had some dietary restrictions imposed on me and consomme seems to me an ideal way to healthful high flavor.
"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

#12 jackal10

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 12:34 AM

I think quenelle are more flexible than gnocchi, and in some ways easier to make. They also have the advantage of being low-carb, for those of us who ave to worry about such things.

Spinach quenelles are traditional for green; as are pea puree. Adding parmesan sounds delicious.
I'd be slightly careful with the nuts because of the texture; it should be smooth rather than gritty. On the other hand roughly chopped nuts, so that the pieces were identifiable might be a interesting addition.

#13 cmling

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Posted 01 September 2003 - 01:59 PM

Just a minor point: 1 quart is far less than 1500 ml.

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#14 jackal10

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 12:52 AM

Oops, you are right.
I qt US is 946 ml,
1 qt UK is 1140ml

However, the recipe and clarification will still work with 1500ml stock.

Conversion tables

#15 cinghiale

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Posted 19 September 2003 - 07:29 AM

I hope this question doesn't come too late, but...

Your lessons on consomme and cream sauce were very informative, Jack. By coincidence (i.e., prior to reading your seminar), I've tried three times during the past six weeks to make fish quenelles, and they've been a failure. I used a procedure essentially the same as the one you outline, but I've had two problems: (1) the quenelles never "flip", poaching essentially from one side only and forcing me manually to turn them over, and (2) they taste like, well, watery, mealy fish dumplings -- none of the divine, airy delicacy that I know from restaurants.

What am I doing wrong? For fish, I haven't used pike, as it's out of season, and instead used cod. As for technique, I haven't ever "strain[ed] the pureed mixture into the smaller bowl." How does one "strain" a rather thick mass? Are copious amounts of cream needed to hold the "dough" together? I use maybe 4 fl. oz. cream to 8 oz. fish (you call for 250 gm/250 ml ratio). Should I use more? Do fish need more egg white than chicken?

Having made mass quantities of stock (beef, chicken, veal) last weekend, I can't wait to try your consomme technique, and I hope I can pair it with a quality quenelle.

Thanks.

#16 chromedome

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Posted 03 February 2004 - 11:15 PM

Cinghiale: I don't know about "straining," as such, but classically forcemeats would often have been "forced" through a tamis (drum sieve); which is the origin of the term. This has the desirable effect of giving the meat a completely even consistency, as well as getting out any fugitive bits of bone, gristle or foreign matter.

That may not have been what he was referring to, but it's worth knowing. As for the rest of your difficulties, I'm afraid I have no input to offer.

Jackal, Fifi, Chad: Why is consomme so rare in restaurants? I can offer a few suggestions.

Although consomme is not inherently difficult, it does require a certain skill level which will not necessarily be at the chef's disposal (it's hard to keep good people). Also, although most of the cooking time is unattended, it is necessary to be fairly hands-on as the raft is forming...I answered an ill-timed phone call once, and during the moments it took to say that my wife was not home, the pot came to a boil and my raft broke. Let me say, it's a whole lot easier to rescue two litres of consomme than ten or fifteen.

Secondly, consomme has a clear and rather unequivocal standard of quality. It must be perfectly clear, profoundly flavourful, and served HOT HOT HOT! How many times have you been served less-than-hot soup at even very good restaurants? In short, there is little margin for error. Consomme has to be done perfectly, or not at all.

Now by way of contrast, compare that to some common restaurant favourites. Gazpacho? Dump your ingredients into the Cuise, adjust for seasoning and consistency, and serve. Purees? Screw clarifying, just simmer your main ingredient in the stock and fire up your immersion blender. Cream of whatever I have too much of in the walk-in? Chef's best friend. Thicker soups hold their temperature better, too.

These are generally pretty flavourful soups, they require much lower skillsets from your kitchen staff (the new extern, rather than your overworked sous-chef) and they lend themselves to attractive presentation. A squirt bottle of herbed oil, a squirt bottle of a reduction in a contrasting colour, a crispy garnish of some sort, and you're ready for the photographers.

Having said that, please understand that I really love consomme myself, and wish it was more widely offered. But I can certainly see why it isn't.

Jackal: wrt vegetables in the clearmeat...

Great though my respect is for Escoffier, he had his hobby horses like any other chef; and I think this is one of them. Assuming perfect stock, you're both absolutely right. There's not a whole lot of call for more vegetables.

In practice, however, perfect stock isn't always a given; and the clarifying process itself inevitably removes some flavour from the stock. Sometimes I don't feel the need to add veg, but more often than not I do. When I make consomme at home it's generally for a one-meal scenario, and sometimes adding a vegetal or herbal note to the consomme as it clarifies adds some depth of flavour to the final product.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Great course, though. I've had this information the traditional way, at culinary school, and I have to say the quality of instruction here at eGCI is outstanding.
Fat=flavor

#17 jackal10

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Posted 03 February 2004 - 11:44 PM

For fish quenelle you should be able to use any uncooked white fish, or salmon or the like. Not oily fish.
I use 2 of fish: 1 of heavy cream: 1 egg white. Keeping it all cold while mixing is the key.
Ther is a reciep here, just leave out (clasically) the onion and the parsley: http://recipes.egull...cipes/r836.html

They need quite heavy seasoning.
They ae tough to sieve, but it does add extra smoothness. I'd leave out that step initially until you have something you like.
You will need to flip them manually, once they release and float. The boiling water should cover them initially. They don't take long to poach on the top.

#18 UnConundrum

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 06:40 AM

As proof these courses are great and live on, here I am reviewing one three years later :) Thanks for a great course.

I do have a question if you're still following the course. I'm still somewhat confused about the final steps of decanting the consomme. I take it you can't just pour it into a strainer, yet you don't remove the raft either. Could you review how you do this last step with a little more detail for dweebs like me? thanks.

#19 jackal10

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 06:47 AM

You move some of the raft to one side and decant it with a ladle into a sieve lined with muslin or coffee filter paper.
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#20 UnConundrum

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 06:59 AM

Thanks for the quick reply. I did see that in the course, but also noticed the comment that consomme is usually made in a narrow stock pot (marmite ? ). The first few ladle fulls would be easy as shown in the picture, but seems it would be another story as you're reaching into the pot. You also talked about the raft being a sponge. For some reason, it's just not clicking for me how you get those last ladle out, or are they just sacrificed in favor of a clear consomme?

#21 jackal10

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 07:17 AM

I tend to sacrifice the last bit (or recycle it back to the stockpot)
You can tip it into a sieve over a different pan, but don't squeeze, just let it drip