Friday, June 5, 2009

First try

This is a very simple soup that quickly became complicated. As a pastry chef I have to switch gears when cooking savory food, since the world of control, exactitude and precision that I am used to is often eschewed in cooking, and sometimes it is mostly about what you know from actual experience (technique, method, execution) than from what a recipe says; or maybe I just need to get over it and admit that I can do better... which I should and will.
This recipe is for "Chicken Broth with Wild Garlic" (from "The Whole Beast", page 11). I used garlic scapes, since they are in season and I initially thought that that was what FH was referring to, but I have the suspicion that they are not the same as garlic leaves. Garlic scapes are incredibly intense, and eaten in their raw form are like eating garlic x 10, so I think they should be tamed by blanching them slightly. The recipe calls for fresh leaves, so this is why I am thinking I may have used the incorrect product.
My wife and I belong to a local CSA (The Poughkeepsie Farm Project) and they definitely have garlic just starting to sprout as well as garlic chives, so I will be able to re-test this "simple" soup on Monday.
I think I can do better than I did with my first try. I think the final item was good, maybe a 6 or 7 out of 10.
What I like about this soup is its subtle complexity. At a glance it is just consomme with a few garlic leaves. But the making of a consomme is truly complex and there is little room for error. I think the last time I made consomme was in 1996, during my final job as a cook. But what is also complex is that it is so simple you might just miss its greatness if you cannot appreciate how both components can complement each other so well and be so different at the same time. And I don't think this would have been the same with plain chicken stock. The consomme is sightly thick on the tongue, dense with flavor, intermittently interrupted by intense garlic.

Will this be very different on the next try? Maybe slightly, but knowing how to detect those differences is part of this project. Why would FH have chosen to use garlic leaves instead of scapes? There is probably a very good reason and I may find out what it is.

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