Ask Daniel Humm, chef of the World's Best Restaurant, about the dish that's defined his career, and he won't say his duck lacquered in honey and lavender or his chicken stuffed with foie gras and truffles. Instead, he'll point you to this seemingly plain bowl of enriched broth, or consommé.
Though ultimately a simple dish, Humm regards consommé as one of the true tests of a cook's skill. His version uses scallops caramelized in butter as the base for a clear yet incredibly flavorful elixir.
To learn more, read "Crystal Clear."
Scallop Consommé by Eleven Madison Park
Recipe adapted from Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park, New York, NY
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
For the Roast Scallop Broth:
2 pounds + 3 ounces fresh scallops
4 ounces butter
2 quarts chicken stock
For the Scallop Consommé:
2 egg whites
1½ quarts roast scallop broth
1 sprig thyme
Zest of ¼ lemon, peeled with a peeler in strips
6 sheets gold gelatin
Sherry wine, sherry vinegar and salt, to taste
1. Make the roast scallop broth: Finely chop the scallops. Over high heat in a wide-bottom, large pot, melt the butter until foamy but not browned. Add the scallops and cook over medium-high heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan frequently to prevent burning.
2. When the scallops are thoroughly caramelized, pour all the contents of the pan into a strainer with cheesecloth, squeezing to remove as much fat from the scallops as possible.
3. Return the scallops to the pan and add the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the broth takes on a dark color and reduces slightly for roughly 5 to 8 minutes. Strain the broth through a chinois into a clean pot and let cool to room temperature for roughly 45 minutes. Skim any fat that rises to the top and discard.
4. Make the consommé: Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl with a wire whisk to soft peaks. Ladle about one-third of the cooled scallop broth into the egg whites while whisking, then pour the egg white mixture back into the remaining broth in the pot.
5. Bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat without allowing the broth to boil. The egg whites should come together and form a raft, clarifying the broth as it rises to the top of the pot. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the broth is clarified and the egg white raft is completely cooked, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, add the thyme and lemon zest, and let steep at room temperature for 10 minutes.
6. Submerge the gelatin in ice water until soft and pliable, about 5 minutes. Drain the gelatin from the ice water and squeeze to remove any excess water.
7. Carefully ladle the clarified broth out of the pot and strain through cheesecloth. Dissolve the gelatin into the consommé and season with sherry wine, sherry vinegar and salt. Serve immediately or cool down, refrigerate and serve another day.