Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Consommé Achievement


When we joined the Daring Cooks, our hope was that we’d be urged to make the things that we’d otherwise never dare to make. This month’s challenge, consommé, certainly rose to the occasion. We do make stock routinely, and even stock so rich, it’s jellied when cold, but had never dared to try to clarify it beyond simply straining out the bones and vegetables used to make it.

To the uninitiated, clarifying stock is an exceedingly counterintuitive exercise: just when you’ve strained your broth, you add eggs whites and ground meat to it, making your semi-clear soup dirty again. Hmm.. And for us, it meant being patient and trusting the recipe - not exactly a strong suit in the Monkeyshines household. Then presto! Suddenly those bits you threw into your soup come together in a ‘raft’ and you have gorgeously clear consommé below.

We’ll start at the top to share the process we followed, and you can also visit the Daring cooks site for complete instructions and several recipes.

When we typically make stock, we use the bones reserved from chicken breasts used in some other meal. I then roast them with the onions, carrots and celery, add water, bay leaf, salt and pepper. This time, we used chicken wings and only lightly baked them as we wanted to experiment with a supposedly proper ‘white’ chicken broth. In the future, I’ll stick to my habits as it’s a) easier b) cheaper c) honestly, I like the flavor of the roasted chicken and aromatics more.

Light Chicken Consommé


2 lb chicken wings
2 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound ground chicken
4 egg whites
1 cup crushed ice


  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Roast the chicken wings until they’re just turning golden (or richly gold for a stronger chicken-y-er broth)
  3. While the chicken is roasting, heat the oil in a large stockpot and gently cook the vegetables.consomme 002
  4. Add the chicken wings to the stockpot, then cover with water – you want the water to be about 1” above all the other ingredients. According to the challenge tips, you should always use cold water to start your soup – this way it’s less likely to get cloudy.
  5. Add a bit of salt and pepper – less than you think you’ll want.  Simmer the stock over medium-low heat until the broth tastes chicken-y. You don’t want the stock to boil – bubbles should just lazily and slowly break on top. This may take 2-6 hours depending on how low your heat is, how roasted the meat was, etc. Over time, the broth will be reducing, which is why you don’t want to over-season it at the start.
  6. Skim off any fat or scum occasionally as the broth cooks, but don’t stir your soup or you might make it cloudy.
  7. When you’re happy with the taste of the broth, strain it into another pan and remove the meat and veg. Some people re-use this stuff, I usually find it’s too flavorless to want to use at this point. consomme 010
  8. Clean your stockpot and return the broth to it. Return to a simmer.
  9. Now simply disengage what you think you know about cooking and play along. This is a very important step.
  10. Cook the ground chicken in a skillet until just cooked. Don’t brown it, but you don’t want any more draining juices. Let cool before proceeding.
  11. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the crushed ice (we just whacked a few ice cubes in a baggie with our meat mallet). Add the ground chicken to this. consomme 012
  12. Pour your egg white concoction into the stock and slowly stir 3 times. consomme 013 
  13. Let it return to a simmer and don’t stir it any more. Remember to trust the recipe. It’s helpful to just go away for a while and read or watch TV or something.
  14. Maybe 15 minutes later, come back and check – suddenly you’ll have a raft forming! Using your ladle or the back of a spoon, gently push a hole in the center of the raft. consomme 014consomme 015
  15. Maintain the hole in your raft, and spoon off any scum or foam that rises through it. You need this hole to see that some how by magic, your broth is becoming clear. consomme 018
  16. Keep cooking until you’re satisfied with the taste and clarity of the stock. Then carefully ladle the consommé through the hole in your raft – this way you don’t get any dregs from the bottom of the pot or from the raft. consomme 020
  17. Pour it into a nice clear bowl so that you can marvel at what you just made! It’ll probably be lighter in color than what you started with, but have all the richness of flavor. Be sad since you refrigerated it overnight and you can’t get a decent picture as condensation is forming on the bowl, yet you’re too impatient to just wait.

consomme 022

Peta also challenged us to serve the consommé with our favorite accompaniments. For us, that meant a loaf of Country bread made from the Tartine cookbook:

consomme 028

and also tiny agnolotti stuffed with veal, prosciutto and cabbage:

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We garnished our agnolotti en brodo with a leaf of fried sage.

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Peta, thanks for a wonderful adventure! Will we actually go to the work to made consommé again? doubtful. But are we glad we gave it a try? Absolutely. Did this whole adventure persuade us that recipes are made to be followed? Umm.. maybe. Old habits do die hard.

Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!


  1. Congratulations on a beautiful consomme! And your agnolotti look great too.

  2. Your light chicken consommé is spot one perfectly clear great job and the bread is a winner I like how the crumb is shiny and so airy marvellous. Wonderful to hear that consommé is off the bucket list at last LOL. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  3. Your consomme looks stunning - wonderful job! And that bread looks amazing - I could go for a piece of that right about now. Really great job on the challenge!!

  4. Haha! I had the same problem with the patience part. ;) And I wanted to stir it soooo bad. I actually hovered above my pot for the full 30 minutes before I just couldn't stand it any longer. :) I can tell by your action shot that you were just as excited as I was about having a clear consomme! woot! Well done!

    And thanks, I'm glad to be back; I've never heard of agnolotti before, so now I have a new pasta to put on my must list... Plus all the other new and exciting recipes to catch up on. :D

  5. Wow that's a beautiful consomme, love the agnolotti soup you made with it. The bread looks amazing too. Excellent job on this month's challenge!

  6. Agnolotti stuffed with veal, prosciutto and cabbage, I am drooling. What a great job! That bread looks so yummy.

  7. Your consomme looks delicious and that bread has great crumb to it!

  8. Beautiful consommé! You had more patience than I did!

  9. Congratulations on your consommé success! Your agnolotti look absolutely delicious & the bread is perfect. Gorgeous crust!