Official Liaison College Blog

Friday, July 19, 2013

Rafting in the summer - it's not what you think

Summer time is everyone doing things outdoors in great weather and taking it easy.  Or is it?  Having been around the kitchen for many years there are some concepts that don't sink in right away.  Like the raft, for example.  Some might immediately visualise Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer and a lazy river.

But today I finally got the culinary meaning of  "raft".  Sure, I've heard it a thousand times, but it wasn't until today that I actually witnessed the real thing.

consommé - one of the basics in a French cuisine repertoire - requires a raft

consommé starts with a mirepoix (a finely diced combination of celery, onions and carrots) among other things including egg whites (see the recipe below from the Food Network's Emeril Lagasse)
When the ingredients start to cook they form a "raft".  The raft acts as the filter for the consommé and ends up floating to the top of the stock pot. 

when the consommé is finished you have to gently poke a hole in the raft to get to the clear, crisp consommé that is beneath

The result is a perfectly clear and filtered consommé that can be used in many aspects of the French kitchen and, when reduced and chilled produces aspic. But that's for another day.  Happy rafting.

Chicken Consomme: Basic Clarification

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2001
Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
30 min
2 quarts


  • 4 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced leek
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup peeled, finely chopped carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme (stems and leaves)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon (stems and leaves)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (stems and leaves)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 8 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 8 cups chicken stock, defatted

Optional Garnishes:

  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Chopped chives, for garnish
  • Lemon slices, for garnish
  • Toast points, for garnish
  • Diced seeded tomato and finely shredded basil leaves
  • Thinly sliced mushrooms and minced fresh parsley or chervil
  • Small, thin bread rounds topped with finely shredded Parmesan and toasted
  • Diced carrots and fresh peas
  • Finely shredded savoury crepes
  • Lettuce/chervil chiffonade
  • Shredded leeks lightly Sauteed in butter


In the bowl of a food processor, combine the ground meat with the onions, leeks, celery, carrots, thyme, tarragon, parsley, garlic, and black pepper. Puree on high speed.
In a bowl, combine the egg whites with the pureed meat mixture. Stir well to blend.
Place the stock in a large pot and add the "raft" (the pureed meat-egg white mixture). Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent the raft from sticking to the bottom and sides of the pot. (Once the stock has come to a boil, do not stir again.) Reduce to a simmer and puncture a hole in the centre of the raft for the stock to circulate through and clarify. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Gently poke a hole in the raft large enough to fit a ladle. With a ladle, gently scoop out the consomme into a clean pot or bowl. Strain through a layer of cheese cloth to finish clarifying.
Serve hot with desired garnish. Alternatively, transfer consomme to a shallow bowl or roasting pan and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, covering with plastic wrap only when the consomme is cool enough that no condensation forms on the plastic. When the consomme is completely cooled, cut it into 1/2-inch cubes and divide between consomme cups. Garnish with sour cream, chopped chives, and a lemon slice and serve with toast points.

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