The Layman’s Guide to Beef Consommé

Making a good beef consomme is a tradition that stems back to the Middle Ages, and these days, it’s not difficult to find fans of the stock-heavy soup that goes great with snow days and an open fire then partner it with a delicious homemade pork stew.

A beef consomme can be served with minimal ingredients or filled to the point of becoming a stew, but today we’ll be going over a traditional beef consommé recipe and talking a little bit about ways to bring out different flavors for different tastes and occasions.

beef consomme

Beef Consomme Recipe

Ingredients

    • Eggs
    • Lean Ground Beef
    • Onions
    • Celery
    • Carrots
    • Tomatoes
    • Beef stock
    • Cooking Oil
    • Seasonings
    • Garlic
    • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions


As you can see from our exhaustive list of ingredients, making beef consommé is going to be a bit more involved than some of our other recipes like Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup. However, we’ll be sure to go step-by-step and make sure that none of your food purchases goes to waste.

To start, we’re going to begin separating our egg whites from our yolks. The number of eggs you’re going to need will depend on the amount you’d like to end up with, but a couple of eggs per serving should work best.

Whisk or vigorously stir your egg whites and get a nice froth going. As for the egg yolks? Perhaps you could save these for another dish tonight.

After you’ve gotten your froth going, pour the egg whites into a pot and move next to your vegetables. Cut and dice the onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, and a little bit of garlic to add on top of your egg whites.

Your ground beef is next to go in. There’s no need to brown or cook your beef—simply add it to the top of your small pile. Eventually, these ingredients are going to form a layer at the top of your consommé called a raft. We’ll get to this in a moment.

Pour in the beef stock and stir the ingredients well.

You’ll notice that several of your vegetables will begin to float to the surface. Soon, the meat will rise to complete our raft. Turn on the stove and bring your concoction to a simmer.

You have an option of making an additional ingredient called a bouquet garni—which is essentially herbs wrapped in cheesecloth to help bring out the flavor in your beef consommé. This a lovely option, but not particularly necessary. If you’re looking to make your mixture more herbal, try stirring in seasonings like oregano or leaves directly into the mix.

Once your meat has risen, you should be looking at a solid surface at the top of your beef broth. This raft is what helps to flavor your beef consommé over time, and won’t be utilized in the final product. You don’t need to stir anymore once your raft has fully risen.

You’re going to need to cut a hole in the raft to allow the simmering broth to bubble and breathe during the cooking process.

The easiest way to do this is to dig what’s called a chimney into the side of the pot. Make sure you see bubbling to ensure you’ve given enough room for the stock to air out.

This mixture needs to simmer softly for about an hour to fully develop the flavors and allow the raft time to release what it can into your consommé. Once you’ve waited long enough, it is time to strain the mixture.

Using cheesecloth will be the best way to strain your consommé, but whatever gets the job done—such as a traditional colander—will work. Make sure you’ve saved the liquid but none of the ingredients in the raft, or the bouquet garni if you’ve used one.

Finally, discard the contents of the raft and pour the consommé into bowls or cups. You can either serve as is or add in a few extra ingredients. If you have extra seasonings and carrots, we recommend adding a little bit of each into the finished consommé to enhance the taste.

Salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

Review

The Layman’s Guide to Beef Consommé
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Ingredients
  • eggs whites
  • vegetables
  • carrots
  • onions
  • garlic
  • raw ground beef
  • beef broth
Instructions
  1. Stir eggs whites into a pot and add vegetables like onions, carrots, and garlic cloves
  2. Add raw ground beef and beef broth to form a raft at the top of your pot
  3. Stir until simmering and carve a chimney in the raft to allow the consommé to breathe
  4. Strain, garnish with carrots or greens and serve hot

 

Variations and Meal Ideas

Since consommé is essentially a warm and flavorful broth, there are quite a few ways to put a spin on the ingredients and come out with many different flavors. We recommend trying out a few suggestions below if you’re looking to create a beef consommé that’s far from normal and sure to be remembered:

Half and Double Consommé


Much like with coffee or perhaps some forms of distilled alcohol, you can begin to alter the strength of your consommé by changing up how much ground beef enters the pot in relation to the amount of beef stock.

For your standard consommé, you’re going to want to keep your mixture at about a pound of ground beef for every three quarts of beef broth. If you find that your mixture turns out too watery or doesn’t bring out the beef enough, keep your vegetable portions the same and double your meat to stock ratio. If it’s too strong, move in the opposite direction.

These portions and ratios are incredibly handy when changing up the amount for a larger quantity of people. A night indoors may require a lighter broth, but winter meals are going to warrant a double strength consommé. Make sure to plan accordingly.

Experimenting With Garnishes


Contrary to popular belief, a garnish is more than the leafy bits that come on top of a hamburger or on the side of a pasta plate at many restaurants.

When we say that we’re garnishing beef consommé, we mean that we’re adding anything after straining the raft from the pot. Be very careful when choosing what remains on the plate of your guests as to not distract from your creation.

We recommend sticking with some chopped carrot and maybe a little bit of celery. You can also try out some of the following options to gently push possibilities with your meal.

Seasoning with vegetables and light greens like bay leaves, thyme, celery, and maybe just a little bit of peppercorn adds to your consommé without distracting from the stock’s flavor.

For the daring, cook up some crepes during the simmering process and slice them into the finished product. Your meal may end up far more involved than you intended at the start. However, the flavor of crepes can bring out a tangy undertone to a beef consommé.

A word of caution, however—the more you add into your consommé, the less it becomes what it was meant to be. Too many vegetables and other garnishes will leave you with a bowl or soup or stew. If that was your original intent, then perhaps going through all of that trouble with the raft and chimney wasn’t really worth it.

Bull Shots and Vodka


Beef consommé has a history of being a warm winter meal or a fine dining entree. However, it also has a dark and nebulous history as a mixed drink.

Back in the 1960s, bartenders began to experiment with beef consommé as a base for a variety of drinks and spirits. Eventually, the Bull Shot was born.

A Bull Shot is made by mixing in two parts of beef consommé with vodka. Then add a dash of Tabasco sauce, and serving on the rocks with a lemon garnish.

If that all sounds less than appealing for an evening drink, that’s because it was. The Bull Shot faded into obscurity over time and was at one point condemned by Marilyn Monroe as “a terrible thing to do to vodka.”

The Bull Shot and the idea of a beef consommé-flavored beverage isn’t completely lost to the ages, however.

If you’re hosting a specialty party or have fairly open-minded friends, try making a Bull Shot or similar beverage.

You’ll have either uncovered a taste that’s highly underrated or discover out another drink that’s better left in the past. Either way, we recommend making enough beef consommé to serve sans-alcohol if you go this route.

Wrapping Things Up

Making a beef consommé is involved and will take a much of your patience. First-time chefs may find themselves dismayed at the amount of work and the amount of waste in the form of the discarded raft.

Still, for those who want a warm broth on a cold winter day, it is hard to go wrong with beef consommé garnished with carrots and salt. Try serving with toasted bread and enjoying with good wine and better company.

 

Featured image: CC0 Creative Commons, erge via https://pixabay.com.

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