Because I’ve made a fuss about making your own stock, how easy it is, how you should never use the phony canned stuff, I figured rather than trying to convince people how easy it is, I should encourage everyone who likes to cook, to make it more difficult and time consuming, and therefore more satisfying and enriching.  Perfect your stock: clarify it.Ren_0034_2

                                                                           photo by Donna T. Ruhlman

From The Elements of cooking:

Consommé: Technically, consommé is a clear soup or broth, and a “consommé double” is one that has been clarified with egg whites and fortified with additional meat and aromats.  Generally, though, consommé refers only to a stock that has been clarified.  The word has an appealing double meaning: it can mean finished or completed (a finished stock), but it can also mean consummate or perfect, and so we can think of consommé as stock brought to the ultimate state of clarity and flavor, stock perfected. It should be crystal clear, clear as a distilled liquid.  Any clear stock (stock that hasn’t been made cloudy from too-vigorous cooking) can be clarified using the consommé method: a clarification, ideally including mirepoix, aromats and lean ground meat in addition to egg whites, are combined with stock in a pot and brought up to heat as the pot is stirred continuously (to prevent egg white from sticking to the bottom of the pan) until the raft forms.  The soup is simmered gently for about an hour then carefully ladled through a coffee filter into a clean pot or container.  The soup can usually be cooled and reheated without losing its clarity.  Garnishes range from diced custard to julienned vegetables to grains and pastas and even Parmigiano-Reggiano (see Escoffier which lists nearly 150 consommé variations), though care must be taken to prevent the garnish from clouding the crystal clear broth.  Consommé can also be served cold (often as gelled consommé).

The following is for the above simple chicken consomme, with basic garnish:

Chicken Consomme

•    4 egg whites, lightly whipped
•    4 ounces mirepoix (2 ounces onion, 1 ounce each carrot and celery, chopped)

  12 ounces chicken, preferably boneless, skinless thigh with fat
removed, ground in a  grinder or a food processor (or ask your butcher
to do it for you).
•    48 ounces delicious chicken stock
•    Optional, but recommended: chopped plum tomato, thyme, parsley, peppercorns (cracked or roughly chopped), bay leaf.

For the garnish:
•    1 1/2 tablespoon carrot, brunoise
•    1 1/2 tablespoon celery, julienned
•    4 shiitake mushrooms, julienneed
•    1 tablespoon shallot, finely minced

Blanche the carrot and celery together in boiling water for twenty
seconds, then strain under cold running water until thoroughly chilled.

For the consommé, combine all the ingredients in a tall narrow pot,
preferably taller than it is wide (too wide a pot spreads out the
clarification and allows too much reduction during cooking). Stir the
ingredients to distribute the egg white.  Place the pot over high heat
and stir with a flat-edged wood spoon, dragging it along the bottom to
prevent egg white from sticking and scorching.  As the liquid gets hot,
the protein will begin to coagulate and rise to the top.  Continue to
stir gently to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.  As the
liquid reaches a simmer, the solid ingredients will come together in a
mass, referred to as the raft.  As this is forming stop stirring and
allow it to come together.  Lower the heat before it boils, letting it
get hot enough just to simmer over the raft and sink down.  You should
be able to see how clear the stock is at this point.  Continue to
simmer like this for 45 minutes to an hour.  Don’t let it boil or the
raft may disintegrate.  After it’s cooked, ladle the consommé through a
strainer lined with a coffee filter.  Your liquid should be perfectly
clear.  Taste.  Add salt if necessary. Serve immediately in warm
serving bowls, into which you’ve divided your
carrot-celery-shallot-mushroom garnish, or chill the consommé in the
refrigerator and cover with plastic wrap until you’re ready to reheat
and serve.  If there are spots of oil on the surface, drag a paper
towel over the surface to lift them out.

Serves 8 4-ounce portions

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68 Wonderful responses to “Elements: The Consommé”

  • kayenne

    Cheater’s Consomme:

    I don’t think I can get away making consomme the traditional way… my folks would be at my ears on wasting food (although I did get away using the frozen gelatine method once on a pint of shrimp stock – they won’t care if it’s just a lil gelatine!).

    So, this is what I do for a clear stock. If there’s time, I would chill it to congeal the fat first, otherwise, off to a (wet and squeeze well) white fine linen hankerchief-lined strainer. Even if I don’t have time to chill it, most of the fat gets left behind as well – damp hanky acts as barrier. I noticed this when “clarifying” chicken stock. I once made an amazing clear beef broth for a sick aunt with just diced carrots and chayote added.

  • jacqueline

    Raft. Read about it first in your books. Again here. Talked to someone recently about how beers and some wines are clarified with proteins such as isenglass – said to her “like one clarifies stock with a raft?” She said “Exactly!” Me thinking “where did these words come from?” You’ve wormed your way into my brain. Today clarified turkey stock with raft. F%^$ am sold now. Will I ever be satisfied now w/o this step? Probably not. Hate you/love you. And Donna’s fine photography probably pushed it over the edge! Thanks to her too!

    - Hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving and we’ll raise a glass to your Dad.
    Cheers,
    Jacqueline

  • jacqueline church

    Very interesting juxtaposition of this and the “simple Ducasse” — some of us don’t have time — even if we envy those that do — to first make 48 oz of delicious stock. Just to get the ingredients to make the consomme.

    Other than that – I echo others’ comments, beautiful photography, enviable technique. To be the hand about to lift that spoon. But maybe in another life…

  • mike

    Having done a few contracts on a high end cruise ship and having to make 80 liters of consomme day, I learned a couple of things that go against tradition. 1. Don’t start with a cold stock, make sure it is warm but not boiling, that way the raft does not sink. 2. You can bring the stock to a boil and turn it down, pulse all the other clearmeat ingredients in a food processor and add frozen egg whites. But never let it boil after that, and do not lower the temperature too much or the raft will sink. This is much easier to do on a stove top than in a steam kettle

  • luis

    This is beautiful… there really is no right or wrong here. Everyone agrees with the fundamentals… Waste NOTHING. Respect nature like the INDIANS do. There are no winners or losers…(well Bourdain…..comes to mind…but…he means well). But living by these principles and imparting them to the new generations… is gonna take a lot o’work. (uhu…. Bourdain just skipped out tha back door….).

  • jscirish27

    Chef’s Pardus and Del Grosso, great thoughts on the sourcing of food and our modern industrial food supply (and the inherent ills therein). As someone who tries only to buy from local farmers and who eagerly awaits my fall venison (another chef friend of mine is a hunter and we butcher together) I can attest to the sense of reverence to which you speak. To truly love and understand food is one of life’s great pleasures. I thank you both for your eloquence and insight.

  • Bob delGrosso

    Kate in the NW
    If you are in charge of your cuisine and you know how you will use the stock, you can mix whatever as long as you are reasonably sure that whatever you add it to will taste good.

    However, it would not be a good idea to mix beef and chicken, or lamb and veal in a stock pot if you are a culinary student or a cook in a restaurant that serves European food without the prior approval of the chef.

    BTW, did you know that the phrase “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is alleged to have come from the African bishop St. Augustine? I just read that Augustine was quoting another St (Ambrose)

    I think the original form was on the order of “When you are at home, live as you do at home, but when you are in Rome live as the Romans live.”

  • Kate in the NW

    Ooooh yet again I am so happy to see these things being discussed, even if no one agrees.

    I am not a chef. I am barely a home cook. I am, however, a passably sophisticated eater who is incredibly interested in the intersection of what all you cheffy-people do for a living and how it affects the rest of us out here, as well as the farming and agribusiness worlds.

    I fully embrace my hypocrisy as someone who really loves animals and also really loves meat. I am not perfect. I am a reluctant, addicted, and damn conflicted omnivore.

    Yet I try to live by my infinitely-flawed principles. I know that I vote with my dollars, through all of you and your restaurants, and in my grocery-shopping. Thus, the higher I go on the food chain, the more meticulous I become with my food’s source and how I treat it/use it/waste it. Like (almost) everyone, I am constrained more than I like by my economic situation and also by what is or is not available to me in my city.

    I just simply WON’T buy certain foods because I think they’re signs of the Apocolypse and represent evil in all its most insidious banality: McDonalds etc, dirt-cheap generic-brand meats (I mean, do we really need to eat meat at EVERY meal?), pasteurized-processed-cheese-foods, and bad chocolate. Oh, and bad beer. Life is too short.

    Moreover, I am raising a kid with those same self-imposed (or in her case, parentally-imposed) restrictions. She has made it through a decade without ever entering a McDonald’s (okay, maybe ONCE, but that was only to use the bathroom). This is part of my service to you, the other beings on my planet.

    There are some foods I do not buy because I stubbornly cling to the feeble shreds of personal integrity, and because I recognize eating as a moral act that connects me to other beings: I do not buy veal (though Lord knows it’s one of the most exquisite meals around); foie gras (mostly because I’d ruin it if I tried to cook it at home and that just doesn’t seem respectful to the bird), or other ingredients that are truly beyond me and best handled by professionals. I know and try to respect my limitations.

    THAT BEING SAID: if I’m at someone’s house or an event where those things are being served to me, I will eat (and enjoy) them. I will NOT see them wasted, because that seems also like disrespect. I eat what is around me. When in Rome, I do as the Romans do.

    Maybe I’m weak. Maybe I’m the very sort of person who is responsible for wrecking our food supply. Am I elitist in my tastes? Almost certainly. I like Whole Foods: so sue me. Vegans will think I’m a monster for eating meat. Maybe Keller (and some of you) will think I’m an unredeemable Philistine for breaking down every so often at a baseball game and tearing into a ballpark sausage with grilled non-organic onions and peppers cooked (deliciously)in hydrogenated oil and sodium-sauce. Bourdain would probably hate me simply because I actually like fresh tofu (REAL tofu, not the brick crap). Ruhlman probably hates me because my comments are too damn long…

    ANYWAY – I do think all this matters, but there’s room for a lot of us at the table, so to speak. I hope.

    And I think you all for teaching me so much.

    Oh yeah – I also have a foolish question:
    When making stock, is it okay to mix meats? Beef with chicken, for instance, or pork with beef, etc?

    Thanks, all….

  • NYCooK

    IS food raised in large qualities are future? We have tried this with Aquaculture with mixed results. What happens when farm raised animals escape into the wild? What is the impact? Why buy frozen shrimp from Thailand when I can get them from Montauk? Certin specialty items i.e. Maine Lobster, Nantucket Bay Scallops,
    Mahi-Mahi,I can understand flying those items in but items like shrimp?

    As for the “waste nothing” attitude of Big Buisness and trying to compare it to what we do… It’s the equivalent of chefs who will through anything in there stock, bitter celery, egg shells etc. It’s used more as a garbage disposal then an actual product cooked with love.

    How is buying ones meat from a butcher or farmer a regression of our society? If anything I would say it is an important step lost along the way to convienece that we should go back for and carry along with us.
    Mabey you are right Louis. Why buy a high quality artisanal vermont chedder, when I can just roll to the corner MEGA MART for some delicous Kraft Cracker Barrell. I mean society has EVOLVED. Kraft has found a way to mass produce delicious, convienent chedder! It’s our future.

    On another (and hopefully last) point delGrosso at least knows where his chicken has been before and more importantly after he has done battle with the beast. When you look at your boneless skinless chicken breast wrapped in plastic on that yellow tray in your super market, can you say the same? Was that animal treated with love and respect? Did it healthy life? Probably not. And more importantly for the chef is it a superior product? Doubtfull.

  • claudia (cook eat FRET)

    the photo is truly a beauty and i have been officially enticed – and that china is elegant beyond measure. family heirloom or wedding china?

    luis – why be such a hater? or is despising bourdain merely sport for you? i read the comments and remain perplexed.

    stock is on the menu. i’ve currently just got veal in the freezer. so it’s a beef/chicken toss up. is beef the preferred way to go fro consomme?

  • luis

    Pardus, the one thing you said that weighed heavy on my mind was about all that great stock material we often times don’t turn into stock… for ? who knows lack of time or purpose?. Well after pondering the issue which is a very valid issue. We all know many folks throw the chicken gizzes away instead of turning them to delicious stock.
    That issue should go like… ARE YOU GUYS CRAZY????????????
    Make delicious stock damm it!!!!!!!!!consomme optional.. the chicken, turkey stock home made is the closest thing to heaven I know.
    Make it, skim off the fat and enjoy it…. Put a freaking Chicken stock IV on and you will come back from the dead….
    But even in the event folks foolhardilly throw the entrails aways… Guess what folks?
    The hard working little guys at Mount Trashmore community waste pile will THANK YOU FOR THE PROTEIN…..oh yes, we couldn’t do with these creatures composting away our waste.
    Indians would be proud Mike…….Nothing is really wasted. Nothing. It’s a new world and we need to insure it is/remains a great world.

  • Bob delGrosso

    The notion that most of us have become detached from the source and experience of procurement our own food is a cliche that one encounters so often nowadays that reading it again here produced an immediate pain in my neck.

    However, just because an idea has become over-used to the point where it can be inserted into virtually any discussion that permits its application, its overuse does not make it less true.

    There are millions of 1st world types who go through life without ever seeing an animal killed, butchered and cooked. And it is almost certain that the number of those who do it all themselves is very small indeed. What I think this all means, in part at least, is that most people really do not know where their food comes from and, more to the point, how that food becomes food.

    And they certainly cannot imagine how it feels to shoot a calf in the head, cut it’s jugular, and watch its life drain away.

    It’s very, very humbling.

    Pardus hit it on the money when he wrote that killing an animal for food inspires reverence.

    If you are a committed cook, and you do this, you will become sick to your stomach over the thought of wasting or ruining meat. And if you are anything like me, you will not be able to view those cooking shows that depict cooking as “sport” and “fun” and “entertainment, without contempt.

  • luis

    Pardus I totally respect that and I get it. What you say is beautiful and I have nothing but respect for the American indian. If you let me enlarge on my thinking without taking any offense only for the sake of adding clarity to this issue I would add that often times we are not eating the extra animal in the farm or hunting in the woods were life is so precious and hard for the animals there.
    (Also my late grandmother from Spain would agree with you 1000%. I was raised like that. Waste nothing). Folks around the world starving get it also. So in a way this food ethic is still very much in force and RELEVANT.
    But society has evolved. We are raising animals for food in large quantities.
    Yesterday Publix ran a sale of farm raised shrimp from Thailand (and the world got smaller too…) 20-25/pck..biggies for $5 dollars per lb. Tilapias are raised and sold everywhere today. I recall when they were developed 40 yrs ago at the Marine Institute of U of Miami. Creatures raised in large quantities for food are our future. They should be raised with respect and consumed with respect as well. But the point is farm raised animals fish foul or mammals simply break that bond we once used to have with our animals.

    Now if you think the producers and shippers of these animals are not following the FINEST traditions of the American indian you are mistaken. Nothing is wasted. Anytime that big farms find an excess of anything wether is blood,albumin,entrails…anything at all. They USE IT. Be it in fertilizers or pet food or paint or fish meal or whatever NOTHING is wasted in big biz. The animals are respected and fully used by modern farm operations.
    Society is moving on, it has evolved, we have evolved. Personally I think we are at a point in which we can minimize the kill of non-farm creatures without missing out on much or wanting for anything. Also its important that we provide the wild creatures a place on the planet for them to carry on. We need to stop destroying habitats for the sake of building fancy condos or mega farms etc. To me that is the NEW level of respect for life in our planet we need to sign up to.

  • luis

    James B, Oh you are soooo right.. Nobody here on this forum will take issue with that!.
    Even rookie me… understands that much.
    Look, canned soup, canned sauces including mayo… there are isles upon isles of supermarket shelves dedicated to this type stuff.
    This is taking the wrong fork in the road from the git go!.
    But in a pinch….. all bets are off!
    You got to EAT!!!!!!!!!

  • mike pardus

    Luis, and everyone else -

    Most people who think they know me would scoff at the idea that I’m a spiritual type of guy. That being said, I believe that when industrialization separated society from it’s food source, the seeds of modern, food related disease were sown. When you kill an animal (or watch it being killed), a sense of reverence sets in and you make an extra effort not to waste the life that was taken for your benefit. The native American’s knew this…Keller gets it…

    Drumsticks-on-a yellow-tray don’t have any meaning – they taste good, eat as many as you can fit in while watching the game…

    Kill a few yourself, feel that, and then think about throwing the wing tips and the carcass into the trash – stock is just too much trouble, takes too much time.Suddenly, all of this takes on a lot more gravity. Eating too much or not using it all, both seem wrong.

    I think that humans were designed to be omnivores…but we need to think about what we eat and, as it’s said, “out of sight is out of mind”. Put it right in everyone’s face…know who you’re eating.And if you can’t deal with it on prime time, be a vegan…no shame in living your principles.

  • luis

    Bob, I think I understand and there is nothing wrong with that approach. And it can be a chef thing too. Original Iron Chefs Kenichi et all… never batted an eye at butchering everything in sight on t.v.
    My point is that…ok, (I don’t think I am ready for that and neither are lots of folks out there. ) Not ready for prime time aside (can you picture kids watching Kenichi slaugthering rabitts or whatever…??? I don’t even think I can with a happy face.

    My point is that I don’t really think we need to do that these days. There are butchers, supermarkets and market mongers that take care of that end of the biz.

    But more important my message is there is no crawling back into the womb for anyone and certainly not society at large. We are all extruded and pushed out of that level of confort. Shit happens.

    The horse and buggy age is behind us.

    Society progresses by the mere fact each of us has the abilities to stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and the pyramid grows taller. We backtrack, hesitate, become afraid to embrace the new and contribute to it, and do our part to keep it on the right course, and relegate ourselves to a type of circular thinking akin to when a computer program enters what is referred to an INFINITE loop. No way out… we become the hamsters trapped on the wheel forever repeating the same steps over and over and over…… forever. Islamic fundamentalist fallacious type thinking…

    I understand your quest within the confines of my own limitations. But I feel it may be a dangerous path you have started on…. Time will tell…Godspeed Bob.

    My approach is to understand why Stock made from scratch is soooo fantastic and worth the time and effort. Also I want to learn to produce superior results using available restaurant stock bases and fresh ingredients and fresh techniques and eventually truly finding my way and my chi in my kitchen.

    I want to stand on tall shoulders in the kitchen and see what I can see. You are a good sport.

  • James B

    I take cooking very seriously. I come from a french backgriund. Always watched my mom cooking as a kid and let me tell you that soups are meant to be fresh, leave the canned stuff on the side.

  • mike pardus

    OK, Sunday morning, time to go to DelGrosso’s blog and watch “Consomme- The Movie”…I shot some very raw footage off the cuff in K1 on Friday and got it uploaded and on late last night…

    Step-by-step with narrative, as promised.

    Hope you like it and that it’s helpful.

  • Bob delGrosso

    Luis
    I guess I just take cooking and eating a bit more seriously than some people.

    Both processes begin long before that trip to the supermarket. It’s all there to see if you have the will. Long ago I decided that if I was going to call myself “chef” or allow someone else to refer to me that way, I was going to have to know what it is like to take the life that I put on the plate.

    But whatever, I’m not at all special. I’ll bet there are hundreds of readers of this blog who have hunted or fished, gutted and butchered their kill and served it for dinner.

    And perhaps some, like our gracious host, take a consummate approach to the kitchen and turn bones and flesh into consomme.

  • luis

    Grosso, amazing stuff man… I picture you twisting chicken necks and hand plucking their feathers just to make chicken soup. This takes me back sixty yrs or so in a time and place where this was how it was done.
    Did you wear your cammy’s and coonskin cap and used a night vision gogle? Sneaked up on your pray from the upwind side? I can just picture it..what a fucking bloody mess….. What are you going to do wih all that left over ammo? Shoot up the rest of the Farm?. Carbon peroxide works good taking blood stains out of fabric but does nothing for mental health. Ever hear of a frigggin supermarket?? Peace bro…whatever works for you, but I want you to know the very bloody thing would take all the fun out of cooking for many folks including moe. Doesn’t get more primitive than that.

  • NYCooK

    LINDA, thats whats up! YO if you got a cheap Beef Heart Connect. Let a brotha know! PEOPLE. SPEND THE TIME on your food. Its funny… People are willing to spend hours at a time nursing short ribs, Beef Daube, etc. If one can spend the time on short ribs wht not stock? Like Pardus said why nor FAB your chicken next to your stock pot. Like that 1 moment of work, many-a-meal, its not as hard as some above would have it seem.

    Louis, thanks, but I am just a New York City Cook, I don’t know about bourdain and them But I wouldn’t have been able to do it without people like Pardus, delGrosso, Vagnoli, etc. Teaching me the basics.

    BTW. The BASICS are so EASY! Suprise! Thats why they are called the BASICS. But they WILL lead you to the promised land.

  • Bob delGrosso

    Today I made white veal stock from a bull calf that Trent and I slaughtered yesterday (With a hollow point bullet and a knife). I made the stock, of course, after I butchered the calf and turned it into ground veal, rognons (kidneys) de veau, paillards de foie de veau, chops, hog feed (yes, you read “hog feed” correctly) and compost.

    The heart was taken by someone much luckier than me.

    I was not able to produce consomme, however. But I was very impressed by how much the stock smelled like consomme.

    Can’t quite get rid of the image of the calf reeling from the bullet from my mind though. It was pretty sad.

    Bon appetite!

  • luis

    Linda, baby steps here. I am now designing my own sauces and making traditional sauces as well and totally unashamed of using restaurant short cuts if the time is not there in my calendar.
    But all this is from absolute scratch not easy. It’s a huge bother and takes time and energy. When I have them I do the real thing. And I agree it is THE BEST!. That is the reward awaiting folks that do the hard work.
    So far I haven’t put in the hrs in either to become a fan of either. Whatever elevates and works and then perfect it from there. In a way before anyone here makes the blanket statement that this is superior to that!!! Other than the chefs…Michael, Eric, Pardus, Grosso, Bourdain, the lovely Miss Glaze… and NY COOK, Chadzilla and so many others here…. you have to/ I have to.. put in the work and make and taste and make and taste and cook and taste, taste….taste… It’s gonna take time and I think it’s worth it.
    …and to think it all started with the “Elements of Cooking” Tha book.

  • jscirish27

    Natalie, actually NYCook answered you about the egg whites above, but to restate, they are water soluble proteins which trap the fat as they congeal, thus helping to clarify the stock.

  • Brian

    Michael,

    I was wondering if you or anyone cooks stock in an oven for the consistency of temperature. Would it be easier to regulate the temperature than a cook top?

    Never tried consomme before, but after reading your account here and in your book I think it’s time!

  • mike pardus

    I typically would not comment on a colleague’s food in a public forum. What I will say is this:

    Before coming to the CIA, Chef Vagnoli owned a small restaurant within walking distance from my home. The food was fabulous, the wines perfectly paired, and the prices half of what I would have paid in Manhattan – and I could WALK to it…It was my favorite restaurant in the area for a long time – rarely a month went by when I did not dine there at least once. I was pretty bummed out when it closed.

  • mike pardus

    I use the heart for all of the aforestated reasons and becuase I think it tastes good. As I’ve stated here before – beef heart tastes like what most people imagine steak to taste like – it’s what you want steak to taste like…Given the choice between a RibEye, a Sirloin, and a Beef heart Skewer, my 9 year old will go for the skwer every time…

    I use heart exclusively and I don’t think anyone has ever objected…probably no one ever knew.

  • jscirish27

    Chef Pardus, do you use heart as the exclusive meat in the clarification or in addition to others? Can the flavor of the heart be somewhat overpowering, ie. will it impart a gamier taste? This is not a problem for me, but it may be for some. Thanks for all the insights. As a working professional I learn something new here everyday.

  • Linda

    I make stock, especially after reading “The Making of a Chef” and “Les Halles” (Bourdain). It all tastes so incredible. I would never use a canned or “paste” stock. I haven’t tried clarification because I didn’t have a hog to feed it to….but using the heart. Now that is inspired. I get my beef hearts free, so I think I can justify clarifcation. I can’t wait…. Thanks Michael for the great post.

  • NYCook

    I Believe delGrosso says it best with “WTF didn’t I think of that” That was an OFFAL GOOD Jewel for free for those who missed it or don’t know any better!

  • CIA

    Chef Pardus I am curious to know your thoughts on the food Chef Vagnoli is putting out in Caterina right now, if you have an opinion at all. I am a fairly recent grad and was recently back on campus and was really impressed with his food. Honestly the best I could ever remember Caterina being.

  • Bob delGrosso

    Wow, Pardus. Who but you would have thought of using hearts to clarify consomme? What a totally f–king slamming idea. I’m humbled. WtF did not I think of that? (Don’t answer, I don’t care about your answer.)

    Heart muscle has almost no fat to interfere with the collection of particles by the clarifying proteins. It’s loaded with glycogen to sweeten the soup and it’s cheap, really cheap (or it should be).

    That is so cool.

  • Andrew

    The main reason I use the ice filtration method is the ease of it all. I tend to make stock in fairly big batches and the freeze it in 16oz portions. If I need a consomme, it’s easy to just throw it in the fridge and let it defrost naturally. I don’t need any extra ingredients or time. I just have to wash my jelly bag that I use to hold it in the strainer.

  • jscirish27

    Sue, without knowing your ratios, my guess is you used too much water in the initial stock or not enough duck meat/bones (basically the same thing) thus creating a weak stock. Furthermore, did you use ground duck in the raft along with a flavorful finely chopped mirepoix (leek, tomato, carrot, herbs, etc)? It is very important to make sure you start with a very good stock and reinforce it further with the raft to make a really tasty consomme.

  • sue

    HELP HELP HELP … I once made a duck consomme – took me two days – day one make the duck stock – day two – the raft and the consomme came out clear as a bell – absolutely beautiful! However upon tasting it – the duck consomme tasted like weak chicken stock … COULD YOU PLEASE TELL US HOW TO MAKE A FRAGRANT TASTY DUCK STOCK! I have been trying forever and ever …
    thanks sue

  • jscirish27

    Some great technique discussed here. I would also like to add two points. Charred onion in the initial stock (a marmite) gives the finished consomme nice color. Also, when strained, a fine chinois with a linen napkin inside works as well as a coffee filter, and I often put peppercorns in this to add additional flavor. Now I’m in the mood for consomme. Thanks MR.

  • b.barnett

    That is beautiful photo! I don’t have to actually taste it, I KNOW how good it is.

    Well done.

    BB

  • luis

    Mike, great suggestion and your suggestion a while back … “ditto for home made bread” is also very right on.
    Nothing beats great home made bread and in stock bread and consomme practice makes perfect. Once you learn and practice and practice… it’s real. No pain no gain.

  • luis

    Greely , That’s a good idea to be sure. Visuals really help. No argument.
    But if you are open to other suggestions I can tell you from experience you try and you fail and try again. Somewhere along batch # 67 you hit it and it comes together.
    Anything before you really work at it is pure beginners luck.
    Ruhlman says home made pasta use..this…I forget.. Peter Pasta says use one large egg to one cup of flour… Marcela Hassan says for a yellow pasta use two eggs per cup of flour….
    Basically try try and try again until you learn. The prize lies at the end of a long tortured road. This is how it is with me.

  • craig

    Michael, The real reason for this level of work is to add text to Donna’s KILLER photos of great food. Whoever is posing the food has a great eye, and Donna obviously captures the visual aspect of a very sensual art form. Cooking hits all the senses. The text reminds us how easily we can participate. Thanks.

  • Kim

    Nothing like a good reason to pull at out the exquisite china! I am defineately going to give your recipe and move beyond the; boil the heck out of the chicken approach.
    It looks like you are headed to Charleston, my neck of the woods. I hope to go to the conference and here you speak.

  • Jennie Cesario who is Jennie/Tikka

    Learned it in school but have never made it outside of school. So much work and wasted ingredients (meat – usually chicken, egg whites, m.p.) just to make clear stock?? Why.

    Demi-glace is the most useful thing I was taught.

  • ruhlman

    jennie, because you can! because it’s just too cool. maybe when you eat it you feel like you’re at great aunt gladys’s country club, but for the cook, it’s an amazing transformation, which really is the true gratification of cooking.

  • ruhlman

    I don’t have a problem with gelling and freezing and thawing but i think it’s best used for non-meat passed liquids, such as fruit and vegetable juices.

    victoria, it’s fine to reheat and cool and refreeze stock.

    phil, you may have trouble getting a clear consomme because you’re boiling your stock. don’t boil your stock, don’t even simmer it, and then try the consomme.

    ny cook brings up convection simmer, pulling your sauce pan to the edge of the flame so that impurities collect on the slow side of the pot is valuable for sauces, but less so for consommes which have a different kind of clarification going on.

    Greely, and natalie, in october i may try some videos.

    pardus, thanks for the great comments.

  • Chris

    I feel sorry for the guy at the top who suggested freezing the stock and letting it thaw in cheesecloth.

  • mike pardus

    A few thiings:

    I find that heart meat makes the best clarification for several reasons – It’s rich and full of protein, so it clarifies well; it’s very lean, so you minimize the “gease factor”; it’s the hardest working muscle in the body and, as such, most flavorful; and it’s cheap. I’ve made great beef , chicken,and duck consommes using the hearts of the respective animals – works like a charm.

    Next – ecoonmy is a big part of cooking well. It’s much less expensive to buy chicken whole and butcher at home than it is to buy seperate breasts, etc. and the trim and bones go directly from cutting board to stock pot – cover with water, chop mire poix, start stock.
    It literally adds no more than 10 minutes to your dinner prep and the result is increased flavor and reduced cost.A $10 chicken yields 2 meals + 2 quarts of stock.

    Finally – I’ve been posting a lot of stuff at DelGrosso’s site -

    http://ahungerartist.bobdelgrosso.com/

    A consomme video is not outside the realm of possibility – I’ve got a freezer full of stock and my dughter is discovering the fun of gels….maybe a weelkend science project? I’ll let you know if/when I get to it.

  • Greely

    Michael,

    You are a very gifted writer and I’m sure just as gifted a chef.

    Once again I will make the suggestion.

    You and Bourdain should make a Stock video. Reading about it is one thing. However some of us are visual people and need to see what you’re talking about in order for it to sink in.

    If you’re not interested, maybe Chef Pardus with the backing of the CIA could do it.

    “The greatest failure is the failure to try.”

    Greely

  • NYCook

    Note: The raft starts to come toghther at 125F degrees so I usually stir untill my liquid reaches 140F just to be safe. Any basic thermometer will work for taking this temperature

  • MissV

    The episode of “Great Chefs” where a German chef is making a beef and tomato consomme is something I still remember today. Even as a kid, sitting with my dad while we watched, I knew what was some pretty cool kitchen shit.

    However…. don’t stop singing the praises of stock. People really do NOT understand how EASY it is to make something that is very, very good out of the stuff they usually throw in the trash. It’s becoming a lost American art. It used to be a thing of thrift…. roast a chicken and then make stock the next day, and it’s somehow fallen out of favor.

  • NYCook

    I made a “porterhouse” Consomme for my Girlfriends father the other weekend and it went over huge. I used ground Porterhouse for the protein in my raft, and I used a mixture of chicken stock and beef, so the steak flavor would come through and wouldn’t be lost to the beef stock. When it was done I poured the consomme over VERY thinly cut and flashed seared pieces of steak, like a Pho, with a tourned potato and brunoise of mirepoix. It turned out really good, which considering it was an on the fly dish was a pleasent although not all that suprising result. Simple Formula.
    BEEF+POTATOES+MIREPOIX = GOOD FOOD

    As for egg whites in the consome its simple egg whites are water soluble proteins, that when heated up expand and trap suspeneded particles. The proteins rise to the top and collect the impurities in your stock to make a crystal clear soup. You should beable to read the date on a dime at the bottom of a 5 gallon cambro.

    MR just wondering do you convection simmer when you make your consomme?

  • Michael Obertone

    I made the most amazing duck consomme that I am trying to make duck confit ravioli for. It was a lot easier to make then I would have thought. I really helps to have a good cooktop which will keep a constant temperature.

  • milo

    I wish I had known this when I tried to make chicken stock. It never boiled, but I still ended up with the fat suspended in the stock instead of floating on top.

  • luis

    This is beautiful, thanks for sharing this recipe. Just wonderful, I now have the Keller fried chicken recipe which will lead to chicken stock and the consomme recipe to clarify and elevate it. Super stuff.
    After making the chicken consomme then what do I do? serve it with mushrooms and fresh veggies? bits o’carrots and other crunchy veggies? hm, hm, hmmmm….great stuff. This is REAL!!!!!!.
    We did lunch at the Fish Company in Tavernier Key in fl. Had the blackenned farm raised catfish with shrimp etouffe…and fried clams.. really good. Off season in the Keys till December. I can picture a vegetable or chicken consomme with shrimp, lobster or scallops even catfish or dolphin or other suitable fish, sweet snow peas and crunchy water cress and some shitake shrooms…with a little poblano or jalapeno bits to bring in another flavor layer….hmm….sweet peas maybe?…with just the right amount of crispy hog bellies sprinkles….Ohhhhhhhhh gooooooooooodness…. this is the REAL stuff Michael.

  • Megan

    A lovely post and picture. Making stock is new for me, but I’m doing it more and more.

    About a year ago, I attempted to make some veal stock for the first time using Bourdain’s book as a reference. Once everything went into the pot, I went to take a nap. I woke up 2 hours later, to find the contents of my pot at a rolling boil. I skimmed and strained as best I could, but my stock was a cloudy, greasy mess.

    After quite a bit of googling, I found a few sites that suggested using egg whites to clarify my stock. I was a little timid implementing their suggestions, but it did the trick. I stood over the pot, fascinated with the whole process.

    I can’t wait to try it again, and add aromatics and meat to the raft. After spending a few days sick on vacation, I made a whole mess of chicken stock in an effort to feel productive and make the most of the time at home.

    Thanks for the recipe, and for the inspiration. I’m halfway through Making of a Chef, and loving it. I’m also going to the James Beard House tonight for the first time ever… I know that having your book fresh in my head will definitely enhance the experience.

  • MadFud

    “48 ounces delicious chicken stock”

    TRANSLATION: Leave the canned junk on the shelf for this one!!

    Would this also mean that if your ultimate goal is consommé, would you treat your original stock differently?

  • Phil

    Consomme is one of those things I’ve yet to master. Whether it’s bringing my stock to too high a simmer, or not properly skimming, I never manage to get it as clear as that rich liquid in Donna’s photo.

    I’ll keep trying. Great post, Michael. Thanks for yet again making it sound so easy. :-D

  • Victoria

    Sunday night I came home from the country to find that a person who shall not be named had not closed the freezer drawer tight enough on Friday night, and things in the freezer were beginning to thaw. I pulled out my baggies of veal stock (your recipe) and put them in the refrigerator. In the morning I heated them to the boiling point to protect them. I was actually going to write you to see if this was a good idea, but I didn’t want to impose. I chilled the stock in an ice bath, rebagged it, and put it back the freezer. But while I was doing this I was thinking about the consomme that was served on board ship on deck at 10:30 a.m. when I was a child travelling back and forth to England every other year with my British mother. It was clear and beautiful with a rich fragrance, served in boullion cups – little bowls with handles on either side. A wonderful pick-me-up on a brisk morning surrounded by the grey Atlantic. Since the bulk of my cookbook collection is upstate, I actually Googled “how to make a raft to clarify stock” and made a note to check Jacques Pepin’s Techniques or my CIA book next weekend. And now this! Yea. Once again, thank you.

  • Andrew

    I find that ice/gelatin filtration to be much more effective and actually much easier. If you have a stock that gels on it’s own simply freeze it, wrap it in cheese cloth, and then put it in a strainer over a bowl in the fridge for a few hours. If your stock doesn’t gel on it’s own, you can always add in a bit of gelatin to the stock to make it.

    If you miss the mouth feel of gelatin in the finished consume, again you can add gelatin back in.