Sunday, September 28, 2008

Beef Consomme - The Movie

From Consomme Demo

by Mike Pardus

A lot of chatter about making consomme on Ruhlman's site this week and some confusion I'd like to clear up. Making consomme is not difficult, but attention must be paid, rituals observed, and rules followed. Apparently, seeking clarity is part of the human condition. Remember: it's the journey toward clarity that's important, it teaches us so much.

The video is in two parts - YouTube couldn't swallow it whole. Please understand that, while shot at the CIA, it was done in one take, by me, using a small, hand held camera. The quality (or lack there-of) does not represent the standards of official CIA video productions.

Here's the Basic formula to yield 1 gallon:

6 quarts white beef stock ( chicken stock will do)
3# very lean ground beef(or chicken) - I prefer heart meat
1# standard mirepoix, chopped fine
12 egg whites, lightly frothed
1 small onion brulee
10-12 oz fresh tomatoes (Use canned or tomato pure in the winter)

Consomme, The Movie, Part Une: The Journey Begins

Consomme, Part Deux: Finding Clarity


LIVE TO EAT said...


Great video lesson, thanks.

Michael Franco

Bob del Grosso said...

Michael Franco
I'd love to take credit for it but that was Pardus' work.

Anonymous said...


And thanks to Pardus.

Michael Franco

Jon in Albany, NY said...

Great video lesson. I've been reading Rhulman's books. Charcuterie with Polcyn is amazing. If I had known fantastic bacon and pancetta were that easy to make, I would have started doing it 10 years ago.

I stumbled onto Ruhlman's blog and then this one. As an enthusiastic home cook, I appreciate the time you guys are putting into these blogs. It makes for fascinating reading and now viewing.

In a few more weeks, two cows that were raised at my father-in-law's will be butchered. The last time we did it, we gave the hearts to a neighbor. This time around, I'll be keeping at least one of them.

Thanks again for the excellent blogs.

Anonymous said...

Isn't salt a necessary component to denature the proteins?

Steven B.

Bob del Grosso said...

Steven B
There are more than enough ions in the mix to help the initial whisking and heat(increase in kinetic energy) denature the proteins. Neither salt or "acid" (hydronium) is needed for that.

Mike Pardus said...

Sometimes I know just enough to sound smart to some one who knows nothing and stupid to someone who really knows. I like working with BDG because he really knows about the stuff I guess at, and when I'm wrong, he calls me on it like a good friend should - doesn't want me lookin stoopid.

So, Bob, tell me if this is correct - there are 3 basic ways to denature proteins for food; Heat, Mechanical (whisking), and Chemical (application of salt, acid, etc). Depending on the protein, some will work alone - given the right amount and enough time - or they can be combined for a quicker or "more complete" effect.

Do I have this essentially correct?

Bob del Grosso said...

Mike Pardus

Yeah, you have it right. I would add, however that there is another way that cooks deliberately denature proteins during the preparation of food. Enzymatic denaturation is pretty common.

When we wet age meat we deliberately encourage enzymes present in the meat to denature the protein a bit.
Dry aging utilizes enzymes from fungi. Oh yeah and marination with stuff like raw ginger and papaya takes advantage of enzymes naturally present in those plants.

Mike Pardus said...

Got it, I knew about the enzymes, but forgot to add it to my list - would you include bacterial fermentation in there - yogurt, for instance- or would that be another category to add?

brad barnett said...

Thanks for taking the time to do this. I'm not a food professional so I've often thought of the whole Raft thing as a big mystery. Very interesting.

Bob del Grosso said...

Mike P

I'm not sure I would add bacteria as another primary agent since they promote denaturation via enzymes and the creation of acids.

In the most fundamental listing of "things that denature proteins" I think you should include only those things or processes that affect the proteins directly. You know, keep it simple, otherwise you have to list too many things.

For example, if you say that bacteria can denature protein when it is really the acids and enzymes that the bacteria are producing that do the work, then you would also have to say that "a whisk" denatures protein (when it's really the kinetic energy imparted by the whisk).

Of course it is true that whisks and bacteria can be used to denature protein but they do so at one degree of removal. The funny thing is that if you move away from the primary causal agents one degree yet again you end up having to include yourself as an agent of denaturation because you are the one holding the whisk. Move away from the center one more degree and the guy who is paying you to whisk is contributing.

I know, I know. It's only cooking.

blondee47 said...

Oh Bob I just loved the video, keep them coming - u shud consider a virtual cookbook...

and it is so sexy to read all that banter tween you and monsieur pardus...ooooh sends shivers down my spine LOL

Bob del Grosso said...

Jon in albany

I thank you and Pardus thanks you. I welcome you too.

Even though I am very scienced-up about how the raft does what it does, it retains an aura of mystery for me too. The name is so romantic in its connotations of shipwrecked sailors, adolescent idylls that turn into Homeric legends. And the thing itself requires quite a bit if finesse to get it do what it is supposed to do. Consomme is only as easy as Pardus and Ruhlman say it is if you have thought about it as often, and made it as many times as they have.

brad barnett said...

I've never tried it but I'll give it a go sometime. Also, as long as the subject of denatured proteins is around I have a question.

Is roasted bone marrow really considered a denatured protein? I heard that somewhere are it seems odd.


Mike Pardus said...

Hey, everybody, don't listen to BDG...maybe he really CAN"T cook, I dunno....try it, read about it, watch the's a lot easier than getting a driver's license.

"Consomme is only as easy as Pardus and Ruhlman say it is if you have thought about it as often, and made it as many times as they have"...

Don't SAY that...1st, it's not true. 2nd, you'll scare them all away from trying and finding out how easy it is.

I made a consomme for my "Chef's Practical" to get my job in 1995 for the first time since 1980...I read Escoffier, practiced once, and slam dunked it.

Except for the "figure 8" lesson, the consomme on the video was made by a student with very little coaching. I asked him if he'd like to practice for his 2nd term exam, he'd only made consomme a few times before...and he did it pretty much ain't that hard.

BTW - I haven't made a consomme in years ( teaching Asian cooking, I don't have to)

Bob del Grosso said...

Perhaps I used the wrong language earlier. What I meant to say was that consomme is a sensitive preparation -at least the classical method is. It needs to be executed "just so."

If is boils hard, you are f--d. If the raft sinks to the bottom before it is clarified you have to start over. You need to be very careful when you ladle it.

Bone marrow is mostly fat.

ntsc said...

jon from albany

Try Charcuterie's dry cured ham. The first time I tried this I used factory pork. Total cost less than $30 and a yield of 12+ lbs. It hung for 5 months.

Second year I used a good fresh ham, from a butcher not far from BDG, stopped at his farm the same day. Better taste and far more tender.

This year I will be hanging two, one to hang for 18+ months. I literally bought a wine cooler simply to have a space to hang it.

As for consumme clarification. Doing it never seemed that hard, but the cost has never justified the improvement in taste. I do it for something to be served guests or consumme to be served cold. I also use dark beef as well as light chicken.

BDG I read and appreciate your comment on my chocolate cake. Critisim from a pro is important. However I'm trying to record what I do, not what I perfect. Be glad I wasn't blogging the first time I tried dry cured meat. 20 lbs of sausage went in the trash.

Walt Smith said...

Chef Pardus,

Thanks for a terrific post!

Your shameless plugging of "A Hunger Artist" on Ruhlman's blog brought me over for a look. This fantastic video is evidence that I need to check back on a regular basis. Excellent site Bob, the both of you are getting some great information out.

cook eat FRET said...

just a thank you for making the video. if i may speak for the little people - or perhaps just for myself, these kinds of tools are invaluable.

Jon in Albany, NY said...


Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to try it. There is a lot in Charcuterie I want to try. I think I'm going to make a pate for Thanksgiving. Never tried to make one before.


MadFud said...

How wonderful of you to do this! I was given Ruhlman's "The Making of a Chef" and after reading about this process, it has been truly amazing to now watch it being done.

redredsteve said...

Just punching my ticket for the "Thanks for the video" train. I too was a bit mystified by the idea of consomme after reading "The Making of a Chef," but seeing it executed, and by the chef from the book no less, is great. Having just started at a culinary school here in Colorado I will be practicing this. I understand that the tradeof of cost vs. clarity/flavor may be a bit unbalanced but I also see the importance of knowing. Knowing how and knowing why. To add to this sentiment, I think I could read, and would much enjoy, an entire book of recorded conversations between Pardus and Del Grosso. I laughed out loud, more out of admiration than anything else, when I read Del Grosso's explanation of why bacteria is not a primary agent of protein denaturation.

John (with an h) said...

I'm wondering about the filtering process. The implication is that there's quite a bit of particulate in the raft that one doesn't want mixing back into the clarification. Wouldn't that preclude just pouring? Does one ladle it? Siphon?

Bob del Grosso said...

You are right about the particulates in and on the raft. You don't want to stir these up.

Typically one uses a ladle, a siphon would work -although I've never used one for this.