The key to creating a crystal-clear consommé is the use of egg whites, which trap and filter the impurities that make the stock appear cloudy. Called a “raft,” the egg whites are mixed with ground meat and mirepoix (sautéed carrot, celery, onion), then gently simmered, floating on the top of the pot until the stock is clarified. A bouquet garni (a tied bundle of parsley, thyme, and bay leaf) adds flavor and depth to the stock while it simmers. Once the broth is prepared (we’ve opted for a chicken base here), a delicate herbed crêpe sliced into “noodles” elegantly garnishes the bowl, adding the classic Célestine finish.
Special equipment: You will need butcher’s twine and a standard paper coffee filter for this recipe.
What to buy: The hallmark of a properly made consommé is its depth of flavor and clarity, so we strongly recommend making the stock yourself to use here. If you’re in a pinch, you can purchase high-quality, low-sodium chicken broth as a substitute.
Game plan: The stock can be made up to 1 week ahead.
You can make the crêpe batter 1 day in advance and refrigerate it tightly covered. This recipe only uses 2 crêpes for the consommé garnish, but you can use the leftover batter to make ricotta-cheese-filled crêpes for an easy breakfast.
This dish was featured as part of our Epic Christmas Feast: Lost Recipes from the Grand Hotels.
- 1Using a cleaver or kitchen scissors, break up the carcass into several smaller pieces so that they will fit in an even layer in the bottom of a large pot or Dutch oven; set aside.
- 2Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the carcass pieces and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned all over, about 8 minutes.
- 3Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer (do not let the stock come to a boil).
- 4Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, occasionally skimming any scum off the surface of the stock using a large spoon. Cook, adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the stock at a simmer, until the flavors have developed, about 1 1/2 hours.
- 5Remove and discard any large pieces of carcass. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a 2-quart saucepan and pour the stock through the strainer (you should have about 6 cups). Discard the contents of the strainer. Let the stock cool to room temperature and refrigerate until chilled. (At this point you can also transfer the stock to a container with a tightfitting lid and keep refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
For the crêpe batter:
- 1Place the flour, milk, egg, and salt in a blender. Blend on high speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the herbs and pulse to combine. Keep the mixture in the blender with the lid on and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight. (If the batter separates, blend it again for a few seconds just before cooking the crêpes.)
For the consommé:
- 1Using your hands, mix the chicken, egg whites, onion, carrot, and celery in a large bowl until combined. Refrigerate until the mixture is very cold, at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, tie the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf together with a piece of butcher’s twine; set aside.
- 2Stir the lemon juice and measured salt into the egg white–chicken mixture and transfer it to a large saucepan. Pour in the 6 cups of chilled stock and stir to combine. Place the pan over medium heat and stir occasionally until a soft, gray mass forms (the “raft”) and rises to the surface, about 25 minutes. The liquid will be bubbling and foaming along the edges of the pan. Immediately stop stirring the mixture.
- 3Reduce the heat to low so that the liquid is barely simmering and only small bubbles appear around the sides of the raft. Using a spoon, create a 2- to 3-inch hole in the center of the raft and tuck the herb bundle into it.
- 4Keep the mixture at a low simmer, basting the raft about every 10 minutes with liquid from the center opening, being careful not to disturb the raft, until the liquid is completely clear and the flavors have developed, about 30 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a low simmer and to keep the raft intact. Meanwhile, cook the crêpes.
To cook the crêpes:
- 1Melt 1 piece of the butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet or 8-inch crêpe pan over medium heat until foaming. Swirl the butter around to coat the bottom of the pan.
- 2Pour in 1/4 cup of the batter and immediately swirl and tilt the pan to create a thin, even layer. (If the batter sets before the skillet is coated, reduce the heat slightly. The next crêpe will be better.) Return the pan to the heat and cook until the crêpe is set around the edges and dry in the center but not browned, about 1 to 2 minutes. Loosen the edges of the crêpe with a rubber spatula. Tilt the skillet, sliding half of the crêpe off the skillet and onto the spatula. Flip both the spatula and crêpe over so that the crêpe lands back in the pan and cook until the other side is set but not browned, about 20 seconds more. Transfer to a large plate. Repeat with the remaining butter and batter, stacking the finished crêpes on top of one another until you have 6 crêpes total. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
To finish and assemble the consommé:
- 1Line a fine-mesh strainer with a standard paper coffee filter and set it over a large heatproof bowl.
- 2Avoiding pieces of the raft, carefully ladle the liquid (the consommé) into the lined strainer and stop when you get near the bottom of the pan. Make sure that the bottom of the strainer does not come in contact with the consommé in the bowl, or the solids and grease trapped in the filter will cloud the consommé. Discard the raft. Gently blot the surface of the consommé with a clean piece of parchment paper or coffee filter to remove any grease floating on the surface. Taste and season with salt as needed. Keep warm until ready to serve.
- 3Just before serving, cut 2 of the crêpes into 1/8-inch-wide strips (reserve the remaining crêpes for another use). Divide the crêpe strips among 6 to 8 soup cups. Top with the consommé and serve immediately.