My first attempt at making consommé was a fail. It was at the joke of a culinary school that I went to. This technique was introduced in Intro 101. We only had a chance to make it once. Since classes were condensed and jammed into three week sessions, most of the lessons were rushed. One of the issues I had with the school’s lesson plans was that none of the theories were really studied in great depth. And personally, I am more of a book learner. I grasp information a hell of a lot better through lectures than demos. I am so not a hands-on learner. We were shown a demo. But the instructors failed to explain the science behind it. When spending $50K, I expect a chemistry lesson! And so much chemistry is at play in making and perfecting consommé. Anyways, the mastery of consommé of our class had mixed results. Some students got it, some did not. I was one of the ones that did not. My consommé was a disaster lol. I think I practically did everything wrong.
I found a very interesting discussion on whether acid is really needed when making consommé. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/752293 The OP questions Shirley Corriher’s decision to not any kind of acid to her consommé in the book, “Cookwise”. And it turns out that in “Cookwise”, Corriher uses brown stock (which already contains acidity), whereas Ruhlman was using white veal stock, which needed the addition of acidity. I’ve never tried making consommé with brown stock before, but now I know.
Here our chef explains how we should be careful in preventing egg whites from stickingto the bottom of the pot.
The egg whites play a role in coagulation. F**king up with the egg whites was one of the many mistakes I made when I was learning to make consommé in Intro 101. When I was done f**king up, the bottom of my pot had curdled egg whites stuck on it, a very common mistake for beginners. I messed up in forming that raft, which draws out the impurities to form an insanely clear broth. The great chefs have said that in a properly made consommé, one should be able to be able to read the date on a dime through it.
We have been making jellied consommé at the restaurant, which is made into a chicken mousse gelee. Ruhlman’s chef instructor, Chef Michael Pardus described it best in his explanation to the class of what a jellied consommé is: