Thursday, March 25, 2010

Brown Butter Consommé Pt.2 Clarification

I tried three different methods of clarification, all of which used the same stock made in part one. The three clarifiers were egg whites, gelatin, and agar.
Starting with the egg whites:
600g brown butter stock base
85g egg whites
2 egg shells(optional)
Crush the shells and add them to the whites in a bowl. Whisk until lightly frothy, only a few seconds. Bring the stock to 130F, it should be a little too hot to hold your finger in for too long. Turn up the flame to high and pour in the whites. Stir the pot 2 or 3 revolutions every 60 seconds with a rubber spatula being sure to drag it across the bottom of the pan. Do this until a raft of whites starts to form on top of the stock. Stop stirring at this point and bring to a gentle simmer. Break a hole in the raft by spooning some of it on top of the rest of the raft.
Simmer for 30 minutes. Ladle, just the liquid, through a fine cheese cloth, leaving the raft behind.
Now the gelatin:
600g stock base
5g sheet gelatin
Bloom the gelatin in cold water and then add to 1/2 of the stock.
Bring to 130F and then whisk the warm stock and gelatin into the cold stock all at once.
Place in a container and freeze. Once frozen place the block of stock over fine cheese cloth and let it thaw in the fridge. I used a strainer to hold the cheese cloth and frozen stock so that the consommé could drip into the container below, but you can use any set up that makes sense to you. After a day or so in the fridge almost all of the liquid should have dripped through, there will be some frozen liquid(mostly water) and cloudy particles left behind.

Finally the agar:
600g stock base
2g agar
Whisk the agar into 1/3 of the cold stock base. Place into a pot and whisk over high heat. Bring to a boil and then maintain a boil for 1 minute. After the agar is hydrated, slowly stream the cold stock into the hot agar and stock mixture. Place into a bowl and let cool until the agar sets(at 104F) the entire bowl of stock. Gently break up the gelled stock with a whisk and allow it to drip through a fine cheese cloth.

Conclusion and Commentary:
The best method in terms of clarity(visual) was the egg white method. The best method in terms of flavor was the gelatin clarification, but it wasn't perfectly clear. Unfortunately, the agar clarification didn't get the stock clear enough for me to even call it a consommé, I had to clarify again with egg whites.
So, I had one complete win(whites), one partial win(gelatin), and one fail(agar). I will have to do more tests to see why this seemingly convenient and foolproof method did not do the job. On the right here you can see how the agar did gel the liquid, and it did weep, but the weeping liquid was not clear.

For more pictures and comments on these clarification methods look here. For more information on gelatin and agar clarification look here.

The final destination for this consommé was a skate wing.
Plate it up!
This is poached skate wing with pea shoots, fried capers, lemon, and parsley, just waiting for the hot consommé to be poured over it. A light, almost fat free version of skate in the style of the classic Grenobloise.

Unless the agar method can produce results as good as with egg whites I think I will be using gelatin in the future. Even though it is more work and requires more time, the natural concentration of the consommé that it produces is very noticeable in the end result. Also, I used the shells in the egg white raft because they help bulk-up and hold the whites together, but you don't really need them.



Anonymous said...

i don't think it was a good idea to freeze the consomme in a qt. should have used a half hotel pan or something. the reason why it was cloudy was because the very top had to filter through and put a lot of pressure on the impurities as it came down and took some with it.


Adam Starowicz said...

Thanks for the suggestion! Your logic makes sense to me; I will have to do a side by side to see if a few inches of extra distance make a lot of difference. This consommé may have been cloudy for other reasons. If the difference is substantial, I will have to sacrifice more space in my freezer and fridge.(The space issue is why I didn't do it in a half-hotel in the first place)

Stef said...

Apologies for digging up an old thread but I think I may know why your agar clarification didn't work for your stock; I did a few experiments myself and was unable to get a clear chicken consomme using the agar method: according to the Fat Duck website this is because by not defrosting in the fridge the fat (which is the main cause of cloudiness in a meat stock based consomme) doesn't stay solidified and left in the agar mesh. I wrote up the results of my experiments here if you're interested:

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