n culinary school our chef instructor insisted on consommé so clear you could read the date on a dime at the bottom of a bowl. He never tossed pocket change into our soup but he did teach us how to transform cloudy stock into a consommé so light and translucent it sparkled — with flavour so pure it can only be described as intense.
The process is old-school odd but fascinating: you mix lean meat, in this case ground chicken, with egg whites and stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Eventually the proteins merge together and rise to the surface of the stock, creating a grey, scary-looking floating mass, called a “raft” in culinary speak. The simmering motion draws the stock’s impurities to the raft, rendering the stock beneath it clear and proving, once again, the ingenuity of the French.
If you’re up for a challenge, give it a try and keep the change.
Makes 6 Cups
■ 6 cups homemade roasted chicken or beef stock
■ 1/2 pound ground or finely chopped chicken breast, chilled
■ 3 egg whites, chilled
■ 1/2 cup chopped onions
■ 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
■ 1” piece of ginger, finely chopped
■ 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
■ kosher salt
■ You’ll need a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth and placed over a large saucepan.
In a large pot, combine the stock, chicken, egg whites, onions and parsley. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring constantly (to prevent the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the pot). When the stock becomes cloudy and the clarifying ingredients float to the surface and merge together to form a raft, stop stirring and allow the stock to simmer very gently, without disturbing, for about 45 minutes.
Using a large spoon or a ladle, carefully poke a hole in the center of the raft without disturbing the entire raft. If the raft collapses and falls back into your stock, well, you’ve learned a very important lesson on what not to do.
Carefully ladle the consommé from the pot into the cheesecloth-lined sieve. Discard the raft.
Taste the consommé and adjust the seasoning with a pinch of kosher salt if necessary. Serve on it’s own or with blanched thinly sliced vegetables, steamed chicken or dumplings.
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