Consommé de boeuf brunoise and Soupe à l’oignon gratinée
Yesterday was tough. It was so frustrating, I couldn’t even pin point towards what exactly was screwing everything up for me. Was I taking too long to prep the veg? Was I totally freaked out by all the random bits and pieces of cows and chickens to feel up and hack up for the stocks? Was I completely lost in the recipes? Is all the butter and cream in my diet going up to my head and sitting comfy all around my brain and making me stupider? Is stupider even a word?
The damned vegetables took me so long. As I got done with them, thinking I was still on track, I looked over at over-confident, over-bearing, over-everything classmate’s workstation and he was already done with the beef and moving onto the chickens. Okay yeah, so he’s semi-pro and I’m not really supposed to compare myself to him but it nevertheless bothers me to no end that I’m always finishing up last in such a frenzy that I forget seasoning and it all goes for a toss.
It was an exceptional jam-packed day at the kitchen yesterday: Marmite (beef broth), Fond Blanc de Volaille (chicken stock) and Velouté Agnès Sorel (a creamy, mushroomy, chickeny soup). The chicken stock was going into Agnès Sorel, and the marmite was going to be clarified for the consommé and onion soup. I was hot, sweaty, bothered, and far behind.
I was better at dealing with skimming the scum from the stocks (écumer and dégraisser). What surprised me more was that I wasn’t so wierded out at using the cleaver to hack up the chicken carcass. Bonza!
The rolled up chicken sausagey things were wrapped in cling film and poached in chicken stock for 20 minutes while the soup was being cooked. When time was up for the chicken things I unwrapped them and proceeded to julienne them as instructed but as it was hot like the sun I let left them alone for a bit and tended to my soup. Once I got back to them they were stone cold and were not very julienne-friendly, crumbling to bits. Oops.
As I was definitely the last one to plate up I hurried heating up my julienned mushrooms and plated up my soup which by now had turned into gloop having been reduced for a very long time, and dashed to Chef, totally forgetting to season – again.
Verdict: Underseasoned. Too thick. Cold julienned muckers and crumbled chicken. I wouldn’t feed this to my neighbour’s annoying and most-hated dog.
I was rightfully disheartened, devastated and feeling totally down in the dumps. But today is a new day and as yesterday was so awful it makes today all the better. We pulled out yesterday’s marmite and pulled out the fat which has solidified on the top. My partner and I had taken a long time on our marmite yesterday so we were ecstatic that it turned out smelling nice. Now we had the tedious task of clarifying it with mince, tomatoes, tomato puree, carrots, leeks, celery and egg white. It’s tedious because once chopped up all nice and neat into 2mm pieces, the mix had to be stirred into a pot of marmite till it reaches boiling point after which it had to be left to simmer for a while. During this time I couldn’t quite chill out as I had to go over and check the gross meaty-eggy scummy bit wasn’t covering all the liquid and scooped some over the top to let the steam escape, while slicing, dicing and cuire à l’anglaise-ing (plunging into hot water to cook, and then ice cold water to cool down) more veggies to serve with the consomme, as well as slicing onions and baguettes for the soup. Seems like a lot for a four-limbed human, but strangely it was a lot calmer multi-tasking today than any other day. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I’m getting better at prep? More organised? Spending less time gawking stupidly at meat? I don’t know. But it’s definitely a good thing. Also, being told that my marmite clarification was going well by the Chef made me pretty chirpy.
The onion soup was a dream. All that hard work over the marmite is testament to the fact that a good onion soup definitely needs an outstanding stock. No short-cuts. It just won’t work. Hands down, this onion soup beats any others I’ve had. No wonder Chef found it amusing when I suggested Au Pied de Cochon did a mean onion soup. It doesn’t even come close to this. This one had an amazing balance between sweet, meaty and cheesy. I could have this everyday and be very very content.
Verdict: Clear, well-seasoned consomme with well-cut vegetables. Well done and flavoursome onion soup. I’m chuffed.
Soupe a L’oignon
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp flour
1l beef stock of exceptional quality
salt & pepper to taste
1. Caramelise onions in butter with a little salt. Be patient. Once done, mix in the flour and pour over the stock.
2. Let simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Grill baguette slices. Place 2 or 3 over the soup in a soup bowl, sprinkle a heap of grated gruyere and put under the grill for 5 minutes till it forms a golden crust.