What is Stock Clearance
There are times when it is necessary to clarify a stock eg for consommés and clear soups. The method given below is the traditional method, which is quicker, but also quite expensive and trickier. The other method is ice filtering which is a very simple process, but takes much longer, because you have to freeze and then defrost the stock. The mixture of ingredients we use to clarify a stock is called the clearmeat or the clarification and these are as follows:
- Lean minced meat is one of the major sources of protein that enables the clearmeat to do its job. It also contributes flavour to the consommé. The meat must be lean because fat is undesirable in a consommé. Beef shank, also called shin beef, is the most desirable meat because it is high in albumin proteins as well as in flavour and gelatin, and it is very lean. Beef and/or chicken are used to clarify chicken consommé. Meat is not used, obviously, to make fish or vegetable consommé. Minced lean fish may be used, but it is normal to omit flesh altogether and use only egg whites.
- Egg whites are included in the clearmeat because, being mostly albumin, they greatly strengthen its clarifying power.
- Mirepoix and other seasonings and flavourings are usually included because they add flavour to the finished consommé. They do not actually help in the clarification, except possibly to give solidity to the raft. The raft is the coagulated clearmeat, floating in a solid mass on top of the consommé. The mirepoix must be cut into fine pieces so it will float with the raft. A large amount of a particular vegetable may be added if a special flavour is desired, as in, for example, essence of celery consommé.
- Acid ingredients (tomato products for beef or chicken consommé, lemon juice or white wine for fish consommé) are often added because the acidity helps coagulate the protein. They are not absolutely necessary — the heat will coagulate the protein anyway — but many people like to use them.
Procedure for Stock Clearance
- Start with a well-flavoured, cold, strong stock or broth. If your stock is weak, reduce it until it is concentrated enough, then cool it before proceeding, or plan on simmering the consommé longer to reduce while clarifying.
- Select a heavy stockpot or soup pot.
- Combine the clearmeat ingredients in the soup pot and mix them vigorously.
- Mix in a small amount of cold water or stock (250 to 500ml per kg) of meat—and let stand 30 to 60 minutes. This allows more opportunity for the proteins that do the clarifying to dissolve out of the meat.
- Gradually add the cold, degreased stock and mix well with the clearmeat. The stock must be cold so it doesn’t cook the proteins on contact. Mixing distributes the dissolved proteins throughout the stock so they can collect all the impurities more easily.
- Set the pot over a moderately low heat and let it come to a simmer very slowly.
- Stir the contents occasionally so the clearmeat circulates throughout the stock and doesn’t burn to the bottom.
- When the simmering point is approaching, stop stirring. The clearmeat will rise to the surface and form a raft.
- Move the pot to lower heat so the liquid maintains a slow simmer. Do not cover. Boiling would break up the raft and cloud the consommé. The same principle operates in stock-making.
- Let simmer for 90 minutes without disturbing the raft.
- Strain the consommé through a chinois lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Ladle the consommé out carefully without breaking up the raft. Let the liquid drain through the cheesecloth by gravity. Do not force it, or fine particles will pass through and cloud the consommé.
- Degrease. Remove all traces of fat from the surface. Strips of clean brown paper passed across the surface are effective in absorbing every last speck of fat without absorbing much consommé.
- Adjust the seasonings. Natural salt is preferred to normal table salt because it has no impurities or additives that could cloud the stock.
Recipe for a basic consommé using pre-made stock
- 500g lean shin of beef, minced
- Mirepoix, chopped into small pieces: 250g onion; 125g celery; 125g carrot
- 250g egg whites
- 250g canned tomatoes, crushed
- 6–8 parsley stalks, chopped
- Pinch dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 whole cloves
- ½ tsp peppercorns, crushed
- 5 litres strong beef or veal stock, cold (brown or white)
- Combine the beef, mirepoix, egg whites, tomatoes, herbs, and spices in a tall, heavy stockpot. Mix vigorously with a heavy whisk.
- Add about 450ml cold stock and stir well. Let stand about 30 minutes.
- Gradually stir in the remaining cold stock. Be sure the stock is well mixed with the other ingredients.
- Set the pot on moderately low heat and let it come to a simmer very slowly. Stir occasionally.
- When the simmering point is approaching, stop stirring.
- Move the pot to lower heat and simmer very slowly about 90 minutes. Do not stir or disturb the raft that forms on top.
- Very carefully strain the consommé through a chinois lined with several layers of cheesecloth.
- Degrease thoroughly.
- Season to taste.
The simpler, ice filtering method of clarification
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