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Clarifying Stock/Making Consomme'

MarquisMagic

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A question for those who make clarified stock/consomme'. Any suggestions for removing the finished, clarified consomme from the pot without breaking or disturbing the raft? Just ladling through the hole in the center? Siphoning? Removing the raft itself? The former seems to leave too much liquid behinf. I couldn't get the second to work. And the third seems to flirt with the disaster of breaking up the raft and mixing solids back into the broth. ??????
 

Alter

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Originally Posted by MarquisMagic
A question for those who make clarified stock/consomme'. Any suggestions for removing the finished, clarified consomme from the pot without breaking or disturbing the raft? Just ladling through the hole in the center? Siphoning? Removing the raft itself? The former seems to leave too much liquid behinf. I couldn't get the second to work. And the third seems to flirt with the disaster of breaking up the raft and mixing solids back into the broth. ??????

Refrigerate it and skim off fat etc.
 

MarquisMagic

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Yes, I generally do that to finalize stock. But to make true, clear consomme' that defatted stock must go through another stage...adding appropriate meat/vegetables to add depth of flavor and egg whites. Through some form of culinary chemistry (if not magic) this -- when simmered -- forms a crust on top of the stock and collectis all of the impurites and solids, leaving the liquid below very clear (though it is again later strained through a fine sieve or filter for further refinement so that it is absolutely clean and crystal clear). The challenge I face is removing all of the clarified liquid (before this final stage) without disurbing that crust ("raft") and returning some of those impurities/solids into the clear consomme' beneath.
 

Manton

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You ladel through the hole, then ladel out as much fat as you can, then degrease with paper towels. It's a PitA.
 

MarquisMagic

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Thank you. When you say ladle off the fat, do you mean to actually remove the raft from the pot at that point?
 

Roikins

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Don't you people have access to high-speed centrifuges?


Ice-gelatin filtration... so much easier than the raft method.
 

itsstillmatt

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Originally Posted by MarquisMagic
Thank you. When you say ladle off the fat, do you mean to actually remove the raft from the pot at that point?

When you clarify there should be a hole through which the broth bubbles. Use a small ladle and take the liquid out through the hole. The raft will break a little, but try to break it as little as possible. Ladle it through cheesecloth. I've never needed to defat with a ladle after clarifying. You should defat completely before clarifying. Just use a paper towel after.

Originally Posted by Roikins
Don't you people have access to high-speed centrifuges?


Ice-gelatin filtration... so much easier than the raft method.


Ice-gelatin, or frozen agar or whatever gives a completely different result. It works fine for a vegetable consomme, but for meat you lose all of the mouthfeel. Also, I find raft easier, and a hell of a lot quicker.
 

foodguy

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interesting. i've always used a spider to lift off most of the raft, then ladled the rest of the consomme through a fine strainer. live and learn. but never have had any complaints about that techniqiue.
 

medwards

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I am afraid I have become rather obsessive about the clarity of my consomme'. The standard I was taught was that it should be perfectly clear and completely fat free. You should be able to read the date on a dime at the bottom of a gallon of the liquid (though I doubt that Chef D or any other instructor at the Culinary would have ever have countenanced our dropping a much-handled and germ-ridden coin into our product). But that was certainly the standard at the CIA...though I should note that we were also taught that clarity is only one aspect of a fine consomme'. Richness of flavor, body and aroma are essential as well. A good consomme' is light but also intense; clean on the palate but full in taste. By the way, clear is not the same thing as pale. Consomme' can be a deep amber or golden brown.

A couple of observations and suggestions that have not been noted in the posts above. The clarification ingredients should really be of the best quality, chopped very fine or ground, and refrigerated before use. This is not a place for left over veggies that would otherwise go into the garbage. Remember it is the clarification ingredients that will give the consomme' its exceptionally full and rich taste -- without their flavor and aroma you will simple have clear stock. The stock should be very good to begin with but it is just a starting point. I make my stock without salt, pepper or strong seasonings inasmuch as stock is an ingredient in other preparations where specific seasonings will be used so I season my consomme' as it cooks though not too late in the process or it will simply taste salty rather than well-seasoned. Finely dicing or grinding the other clarification ingredients helps them release their flavors quickly and makes it easier for them to adhere to the raft. The albumen in the egg whites (and perhaps egg shells) used in the clarifying process doesn't impart flavor. In fact, I believe just as it draws impurities out it can actually withdraw flavor so be careful not to overdo the quantity of egg whites in relationship to the other ingredients. As you bring the liquid to a simmer, you need to be stirring constantly so that the egg whites don't congeal in lumps and the other ingredients don't stick to the pot. It's okay if the stock becomes cloudy at this point and you see white foam gathering. That's the beginnings of the raft. But once the raft begins to form, stop stirring immediately (and don't stir again!). Keep the heat up just high enough to bring a few bubbles (and impurities) to the surface. Any higher and the resulting movement will keep recycling the impurties back under the surface and might actually break the raft. At the same time, you want to make sure that the heat is not so low that bubbles aren't coming up. It's the bubbles that are lifting the impurties out of the soup and into the raft. I should also note that the raft can break if it becomes too dry, so one should baste it rather frequently, ladling up some liquid through the hole that naturally occurs (or you create) in the center of the raft. As others have noted above, I too generally ladle out the clear consomme' through that hole when the soup is done (you can tell by taste but another indication is that the raft will begin to sink -- it generally takes about an hour or so), strain through a coffee filter, and then blot with a paper towel. Another method not yet referenced is to turn off the heat and wait ten minutes, allowing the raft to sink and then ladling the consomme' out without disturbing the raft and then letting the liquid strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter.

As for garnishing, here's where Manton gets to practice his brunoise...but one little tip is to have one of the soup spoons with which this consomme' will be eaten as part of your mise en place so that you can see exactly how the consomme' and garnish will look to the diner with each spoonful and to make sure your garnished vegetables/meat are of the perfect size and proportion.
 

kwilkinson

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When I was at Cyrus, we always had such a shitty time doing the oxtail consomme and making sure that it came out clearly. Then, I realized that we had stockpots with spigots on the bottom so you could drain them from the bottom. Use that kind of pot to make your consomme and you never have to worry about the raft breaking while you're ladling. It might not make sense to buy a pot just for this, but damn was it a useful piece of equipment to use.
 

MarquisMagic

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Originally Posted by medwards
I am afraid I have become rather obsessive about the clarity of my consomme'. The standard I was taught was that it should be perfectly clear and completely fat free. You should be able to read the date on a dime at the bottom of a gallon of the liquid (though I doubt that Chef D or any other instructor at the Culinary would have ever have countenanced our dropping a much-handled and germ-ridden coin into our product). But that was certainly the standard at the CIA...though I should note that we were also taught that clarity is only one aspect of a fine consomme'. Richness of flavor, body and aroma are essential as well. A good consomme' is light but also intense; clean on the palate but full in taste. By the way, clear is not the same thing as pale. Consomme' can be a deep amber or golden brown.

A couple of observations and suggestions that have not been noted in the posts above. The clarification ingredients should really be of the best quality, chopped very fine or ground, and refrigerated before use. This is not a place for left over veggies that would otherwise go into the garbage. Remember it is the clarification ingredients that will give the consomme' its exceptionally full and rich taste -- without their flavor and aroma you will simple have clear stock. The stock should be very good to begin with but it is just a starting point. I make my stock without salt, pepper or strong seasonings inasmuch as stock is an ingredient in other preparations where specific seasonings will be used so I season my consomme' as it cooks though not too late in the process or it will simply taste salty rather than well-seasoned. Finely dicing or grinding the other clarification ingredients helps them release their flavors quickly and makes it easier for them to adhere to the raft. The albumen in the egg whites (and perhaps egg shells) used in the clarifying process doesn't impart flavor. In fact, I believe just as it draws impurities out it can actually withdraw flavor so be careful not to overdo the quantity of egg whites in relationship to the other ingredients. As you bring the liquid to a simmer, you need to be stirring constantly so that the egg whites don't congeal in lumps and the other ingredients don't stick to the pot. It's okay if the stock becomes cloudy at this point and you see white foam gathering. That's the beginnings of the raft. But once the raft begins to form, stop stirring immediately (and don't stir again!). Keep the heat up just high enough to bring a few bubbles (and impurities) to the surface. Any higher and the resulting movement will keep recycling the impurties back under the surface and might actually break the raft. At the same time, you want to make sure that the heat is not so low that bubbles aren't coming up. It's the bubbles that are lifting the impurties out of the soup and into the raft. I should also note that the raft can break if it becomes too dry, so one should baste it rather frequently, ladling up some liquid through the hole that naturally occurs (or you create) in the center of the raft. As others have noted above, I too generally ladle out the clear consomme' through that hole when the soup is done (you can tell by taste but another indication is that the raft will begin to sink -- it generally takes about an hour or so), strain through a coffee filter, and then blot with a paper towel. Another method not yet referenced is to turn off the heat and wait ten minutes, allowing the raft to sink and then ladling the consomme' out without disturbing the raft and then letting the liquid strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter.

As for garnishing, here's where Manton gets to practice his brunoise...but one little tip is to have one of the soup spoons with which this consomme' will be eaten as part of your mise en place so that you can see exactly how the consomme' and garnish will look to the diner with each spoonful and to make sure your garnished vegetables/meat are of the perfect size and proportion.


You don't season your stock?
 

Manton

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Originally Posted by MarquisMagic
You don't season your stock?


No, you season the finished product.
 

itsstillmatt

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Originally Posted by Manton
No, you season the finished product.

I season very lightly when I start. I think it makes for a nicer stock.
 

Manton

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Originally Posted by iammatt
I season very lightly when I start. I think it makes for a nicer stock.

I put in peppercorns but never salt. That's been drilled into me from books since the beginning of time, then reinforced at school. No salt until the end.
 

itsstillmatt

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Originally Posted by Manton
I put in peppercorns but never salt. That's been drilled into me from books since the beginning of time, then reinforced at school. No salt until the end.

I know, but it makes no sense to me. I think salt helps things marry better (with no justification) so I add just a touch. Maybe it makes me feel like a rebel.
 

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