In the last post I talked about poaching chicken and having a lovely broth or stock left over as a result. Great stuff to have on hand to stir into sauces and make soup from – it’s a staple in my kitchen. The fat rises to the top when it is chilled and it’s ready to go.
But for aesthetic’s sake, sometimes you want a very clear broth instead of the murky, cloudy stock you might have – especially if the broth boiled for any length of time. It might look like this:
There’s nothing wrong with that – unless, as I said, you want a really clear broth such as for consommé. Don’t knock consommé , and do not confuse homemade with Campbell’s Consommé in a can, which is pretty damn salty. It’s warming on a cold night – and if it’s rich, flavorful stock with a final garnish of a fine mince of raw vegetables (carrot, celery, turnip, onion), you have consommé brunoise, which makes an excellent recherche, non-filling starter to an elegant dinner. (There are infinite other consommé variations, all of them delicious.)
Anyway. To clarify stock that’s muddled and cloudy, heat the strained -of-bones-and-veg stock to simmering. While it’s heating, for each quart of stock (more or less; you don’t need to be precise) beat one egg white until thick and puffy.
Now: whisk that fluffy egg white into the simmering stock. Stir it around a time or two, then turn the heat UP and bring the stock to a boil. Immediately turn the heat OFF again, remove the pan from the heat, and let cool to warm-ish.
Now get a clean dish towel – not a terry-cloth one, unless you enjoy chewy bits in your broth – and dampen it, then wring it out. Place the towel over a wire-mesh strainer and place that over a bowl, and pour the stock-egg mixture into the towel. Let it drain.
DO NOT DISTURB THIS. If you try to hurry it by shaking the strainer or pressing on the towel, you will get cloudy gunk in the broth, so LEAVE IT ALONE.
Store, covered, in the refrigerator about four days. This method works on any meat stock – chicken, beef, pork, lamb, whatever – and makes a sediment-y stock into a much more appetizing soup by itself.