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Stock clearance

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The fat-free part of eggs
I was reading up about egg white and found information about treating acne and common recipes for using leftover whites in meringues, pavlovas and icings etc, but I chanced upon this bit of information about using it to help women conceive that made my face scrunch up in complete wonderment at some of the things people believe.

Another thing that egg white does is clarify broth, something I saw a chef do at a press event some time ago. Her spoken and written instructions were not very clear so I did some research online and found more helpful advice. 

This is apparently something trainee chefs learn in cooking school, but the process seemed easy enough to do at home Рstir beaten egg whites into simmering broth and after a while, they rise to the surface forming a "raft" and attracting all the other floating food particles like meat and vegetables. After a while, you remove the egg whte raft that's now loaded with all the "impurities" and you're left with a clear broth or consomm̩.

I had made some good stock from the carcass of a roasted free-range organic chicken. The bones still had bits of meat on it and all the richness in the marrow, skin and what would normally be considered the "nasty" bits, so of course the stock was delicious.

But who can resist an experiment, and so I set out to clarify the stock. I followed the recipe below and documented the process along the way:
From left: (top) Bring stock to a simmer; and add beaten egg, which will clump together on the surface to form a 'raft'; (bottom) the broth is strained (ugh, not a pretty sight!); and the final broth (not completely clear, but more clarified than when it started)
So, what did I find out from the experiment? No doubt, the process works. But here's the thing... so what?

In restaurants, chefs do it so that their soups and sauces look pretty without any floating bits in it. With homemade stock, those little bits of meat and vegetables still left in it won't make a difference. If your dish had been flavoured well, it would be delicious even if it didn't look cheffy.

The egg white raft that was left after the clarifying process didn't look appetising, and I certainly didn't want to taste it, but I don't think it would have tasted horrible. Conclusion: I'm leaving the clarifying to restaurant kitchens; I'm not wasting a single bit of well-made stock.

Makes just over a litre

1.5 litres of  stock
2-3 egg whites
  • Whisk the egg whites until foamy. Heat the stock and when it is simmering, add the eggs whites. Stir frequently until the egg white starts to clump together on the surface of the soup. DO NOT ALLOW THE STOCK TO BOIL. Once the egg white mass starts to form, stop stirring and reduce the heat to a slow simmer.
  • Allow the egg white raft to slowly form. For this amount of stock, it should take 30-40 minutes for the raft to "clean" the stock. It might sink but don't allow it to break up.
  • Strain the consommé through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Allow to cool and refrigerate; this will allow the last bits of fat to float to the surface and congeal and you can easily remove it.

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