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consomme_header.jpgVitaly Paley and his wife, Kimberly, own Paley's Place Bistro and Bar in Portland, Oregon.  In 2005 Vitaly was named Best Chef by the James Beard Foundation.  In the winter, he serves consomme with shaved truffles and roasted root vegetables.  Their book is The Paley's Place Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from the Pacific Northwest.


Chicken Consomme
Makes about 8 cups

12 cups Chicken Stock
2 chicken legs, bones and skinned or 1 lb lean ground chicken meat (ground without fat or skin)
1 small onion, cut into large dice
1 small carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds
5 sprigs of Italian parsley, leaves only
10 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
1 Tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Whites and crushed shells from 8 large eggs

In a heavy bottomed 6-quart soup pot, gently warm the stock over low heat.  maintain its warmth, testing the temperature of the stock with an instant-read thermometer to ensure it doesn't rise above 120°.

While the stock warms, prepare the chicken and vegetables.  In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, place the chicken, onion, carrot, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.  Pulse until the vegetables are the size of a lentil.  Do not puree. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites and crushed eggshells until frothy.  Add the chopped chicken and vegetables and whisk to combine.  Whisk in a 1 cup of warm stock to the eggs; repeat 2 or 3 times. 

Slide the egg white-stock mixture into the remaining warm stock.  Let simmer, whisking frequently (so the whites don't separate and sink to the bottom of the pot where they can stick), until a solid mass (the "raft") begins to form on the surface of the stock, about 30 minutes.  Stop whisking and simmer for about 15 minutes more.

At this point, small amounts of steam will try to break through the raft, creating little holes.  To facilitate the release of steam, insert the handle of a wooden spoon into an opening, and gently widen one of the holes.  As the liquid percolates through the opening, it flavors the stock.  The raft in turn gathers any solids and clarifies the liquid.  It can take another 30 minutes for the foam to subside and the liquid to become clear.

Taste the clear liquid coming off the top of the raft to ensure the flavor is rich enough for your taste.  Don't hesitate to cook the consomme longer or to season it more if its flavor is not what you think it can be.

LIne a strainer with cheesecloth and set it over the container in which you sill store the consomme.  Have a bowl of ice water ready.  When the consomme is done to your liking, ladle the liquid gently in to the strainer, letting it flow through without pressing.  Discard the solids that are left in the pot. 

Cool the consomme quickly by setting the storage container in the ice-water bath.  If you don't plan on using the consomme within 1 or 2 days, transfer it to smaller containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

Music break: Mahalageasca (Bucovina Dub) by Mahala Rai Banda