Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
The first recipe in Cafe Boulud Cookbook is Onion Soup with Braised Beef Shank. The recipe is relatively simple, but time consuming especially if you are making stock from scratch as I did. Some key tips include cutting vegetables and meat in uniform sizes, skimming fat consistently, straining the soup, and simmering for a long period of time. Cutting the vegetables in larger uniform sizes helps keep the vegetables from turning to mush too quickly and cooks everything evenly. Skimming the fat as the soup’s impurities rise to the surface keeps the soup a clear, uniform consistency, while straining helps keep the soup clear and smooth. Simmering for long periods of time helps the soup gain a more intense flavor and adds depth as water evaporates from the soup and more flavor is left over in a smaller amount of broth. One last tip is to season and taste throughout to make sure your soup has flavor in the finished product. Once you add salt, give it a few minutes before tasting again.
I made stock from the cookbook and can say that if you have the time and money, I would highly recommend giving it a try if not solely for the experience of making your own stock.
Beef Stock Ingredients
First, sear beef shank in large saute or skillet with vegetable oil and set aside. Melt butter separately in a dutch oven or large stock pot. Add sliced onions and minced garlic. Let onions cook and develop color (roughly 30 to 40 minutes) on medium heat.
Stay Gold, Pony Boy
Next, add flour and cook for 5 minutes so that raw flour taste disappears and the flour is wet. Pour white wine and heat until it is nearly evaporated. Add seared pieces of beef shank, vegetables, herbs, and beef stock. Bring to a boil and then simmer for two hours. Make sure to consistently skim fat and impurities from the surface. Strain the soup once it is finished and eat or seal in airtight containers in fridge or freezer.
Finished Product, Uneven Onion Slices Included.
Overall, the soup was simple in ingredients and had a lot of depth with neither the onions or beef stock being too overpowering and tasted like a very traditional French onion soup. The amount of salt I had to use to really begin tasting the soup was somewhat alarming, but I think that is something a home cook needs to get over if they really want to elevate their cooking. In all likely hood, it’s still far less than what you get in a restaurant or from a can. I consumed 2 bowls along with some toasted French bread I made using a bread maker. Soup absorbed bread is not something to be missed. The remainder of the evening was spent thinking of ways to consume the leftovers and peeing the consumed soup.