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!
Sorry for posting late… I actually remembered the deadline on time, but I’d had a long day, and just wanted to rest. Then I got busy again. The wedding is in just over two weeks, and it’s starting to take its toll: we have wedding-related meetings and tasks nearly every day! Also, I’ve finally gotten serious about writing my thesis, so I’m filling up my typing quota as it is.
However, I was able to sneak in this month’s Daring Cooks’ challenge, and I’m glad I did, because it was an intriguing one. I liked that our hostess allowed us to keep things as simple or make them as finicky as we wanted. The core requisite was to make a beef, chicken, or vegetable stock. Then, we could turn it into a soup (simple), or a consommé (finicky). You know me: I shy away from layered desserts, extravagant cakes and pastry bags in general, but when it comes to savoury cooking, I’m always up for horribly complicated, time-consuming processes that lead to not necessarily impressive results (because, really, most people have no idea how much work and balancing of flavours goes into some of the simplest-looking, cleanest-tasting dishes). Plus, I make stock and soup all the time, so trying my hand at consommé was the logical choice.
I decided to make a beef and onion consommé, as I love French onion soup. I kind of knew it wouldn’t be perfect from the get-go, especially when the only bones I could find were marrow bones: the fatty marrow usually prevents one from obtaining a crystal clear stock, even when you try roasting them and extracting the marrow, as I did. On the other hand, as Peta, our hostess, pointed out, marrow also gives a lot of flavour.
Having made my stock the way I usually do (cold water, no stirring, minimal simmering for hours), I made French onion beef soup, with caramelized onions and red wine (I was out of port and cognac).
Finally came the unknown part: making consommé. I used the traditional “raft” method. It consists in using a protein mixture, in this case whipped egg white and cooked ground beef, and using it to attract all the impurities to the surface of the soup. Then, you poke a hole into the raft, and carefully ladle out the liquid.
I didn’t fare so well with this part. I can’t say whether it’s because my raft broke imperceptibly, or whether my stock was too cloudy to be saved, but my consommé was nowhere near crystal clear. But I was still very happy to sit down to a hot bowl of savoury liquid, regardless of its texture or appearance: it was late, I was hungry, and the liquid, whatever it was, tasted damn good.
I enjoyed learning about consommé, even if mine wasn’t a runaway success. My thanks to Peta for this challenge! Please check out the challenge recipes here, and go through the Daring Cooks’ blog roll to see the beautiful soups that were made this month.