As delicious as beef flavorings are, they can be confusing even for the seasoned cook. Whilst the key ingredients are similar, there are variations in quantities and some of the ingredients themselves.
A single change in either of these aspects can change the whole taste profile and texture of a beef flavoring. Because of this, fully understanding the differences between them is an important tool to have under your belt. It will open new doors to new meaty, rich, and indulgent recipes for you to try out.
They can be as simple as just simmered bones or a complex recipe with aromatics, bones, meat, and vegetables.
Once you learn the basics and how to best use each of them, you can adjust and experiment to match your preferences and needs.
So, if you want to learn everything about the differences between beef stock, beef broth, and beef consommé, you are in the right place. Read on to have your answers ready for whenever that nitpicky friend comes for dinner!
What is Beef Consommé?
First of all, consommé is a French term for a very concentrated and aromatic liquid made from broth or stock that is usually clarified.
Because of its clarity and highly concentrated flavor, beef consommé is usually considered to be the crème de la crème of beef soups.
A clear consommé preparation may involve some techniques and delicate procedures, but it’s definitely worth it.
Clarifying the consommé is optional, though. A consommé can be cloudy as long as it is concentrated and packed full of flavor. The cloudiness is caused by the dissolved proteins while simmering the broth or stock.
When making clear consommé, the broth or stock is heated gently, which makes the proteins floating around rise to the top and coagulate. This leaves the liquid below them crystal clear. A mixture of egg whites, ground meat, vegetables, and acid, called ‘clearmeat’ or raft, catches the proteins and other impurities. The resulting product is an indulgent, rich, and very flavorful beef soup.
How to Make Beef Consommé
Although it may seem to be labor intensive, making beef consommé is pretty straightforward once you get the hang of the techniques involved.
If you want to test your skills and give beef consommé a try, here’s how to make it:
- ½ ground lean beef (preferably sirloin or veal)
- 4 egg whites
- 1.5 qt. (6 cups) premium beef or veal stock (cold)
- 3-4 canned or fresh tomatoes, crushed
- 2-3 ribs of celery, finely diced
- 1-2 carrots, finely diced
- 1-2 onions, finely diced
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 tbs of black peppercorns, crushed
- 2 tsp of salt
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 2 whole cloves (optional)
- First and foremost, prepare your mise en place (your ingredients beforehand). This is an important organizational step that will make the entire process so much easier.
- Whisk your egg whites, black peppercorns, herbs, and spices vigorously in a stockpot until the mixture is foamy.
- Put your aromatics; tomatoes, celery, onion, and ground beef into a food processor and pulse a few times until it comes together.
- Combine all of your ingredients, your beef or veal stock, beef and vegetable mixture, and foamy egg white mixture into a large stockpot and salt to your preference.
- Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly with a whisk.
- Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 30 to 40 minutes without stirring or whisking.
- After 30 to 40 minutes of simmering, take the stockpot off the heat and strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve or a chinois lined with two layers of cheesecloth to catch any impurities and solids (the mixture can be discarded at this point, since it gave all of its flavor into the liquid).
- Remove any excess fat off the top.
- Serve and enjoy its deliciousness while hot!
What is Beef Stock?
Beef stock is a great way to take any dish or sauce from average to mind-blowing very quickly.
Once you prepare your stock, it goes a long way and can be used for many different dishes and recipes. This versatility comes from the fact that it is not as salty and heavily flavored as a beef broth.
Though many people use beef broth and beef stock interchangeably, there is a difference between them in terms of the ingredients, seasoning, and the cooking time.
Beef stock is traditionally made by gently simmering animal bones, which may or may not have some scraps of meat attached to them, mirepoix – a French term for a flavor base that usually consists of onion, celery, and carrots – and some aromatics in water.
Sometimes the bones are roasted in the oven to enhance the overall flavor of the stock. In this case,it’s called brown stock. If the bones are not roasted, it’s called white stock.
Beef stock is generally simmered for a long period of time; from 3 to 6 hours. This is to dissolve any and all of the flavor and gelatin inside the bones and cartilages. This results in gelatinization once it cools off.
What is Beef Stock Used For?
Beef stock, when done properly, is one of the most versatile and flavor-enhancing things in the kitchen.
You can use it to impart a rich, beefy flavor to any kind of savory dish. It can be used in soups such as beef noodle soup, Vietnamese pho, or types of beef stews. You can also use beef stock to enhance the flavor of rice dishes such as pilaf or risotto. You can also take your sauces and gravies to a whole new level by adding some beef stock to them.
What is Beef Broth?
Simply put, beef broth is a flavorful liquid made by simmering veal meat, sometimes with bones, mirepoix, herbs, and seasonings for 1 to 2 hours.
Since it’s not simmered for too long, it won’t gelatinize when it is cooled.
Beef broth is seasoned with salt and other spices based on preference and taste. It’s quite easy to prepare, since all you need to do is combine your ingredients in a large pot and simmer for an hour or two.
Beef Broth vs Condensed Beef Broth
There’s not much difference between beef broth and condensed beef broth.
Condensed beef broth is just a further reduced version of regular beef broth. As a result, it has an even more intense and accentuated beef flavor. It can be easily described as a concentrated beef broth, which may be different in texture depending on the ingredients used for the broth.
What is Beef Broth Used For?
There are many uses for beef broth, the most common one being a base for beefy soups and stews. However it’s not limited to that; you can also use beef broth instead of water for grain dishes such as pilaf, orzo, or risotto. You can make killer sauces and gravies with immense beef flavor to accompany your main dish.
If all else fails, you can even drink beef broth as is. Just pour it in a cup and drink it while it’s hot. It’s chock full of minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and other nutrients that are very good for your bones and joints.
What is the Difference Between Beef Consommé vs Beef Stock and Beef Broth?
Firstly, it’s important to address the difference between beef stock and beef broth. As I’ve mentioned above, beef stock is made mostly with animal bones with a little meat attached to them. Beef broth is made mainly by simmering meat, with or without bones. Also, beef stock is simmered for much longer than broth, from 3 to 6 hours while broth is simmered for around 1 to 2 hours.
Another important distinction is the fact that beef stock is unseasoned to be versatile, while beef broth is seasoned with salt and other spices and thus, can be consumed as is.
Beef consommé, on the other hand, is made from beef stock or broth by simmering it for a very long time to concentrate the beefy flavor. It’s also usually clarified from all of the cloudiness and impurities that may have left in the stock or broth. This results in an even richer, glossier, and more luxurious product. Since beef consommé is reduced and concentrated so much more than beef broth, it has a thicker consistency.
Can You Substitute Beef Consommé for Beef Broth?
In a pinch, you definitely can. You can just dilute the beef consommé with some water to make it thinner in consistency similar to beef broth, which will also dilute its intense beef flavor.
However, in my opinion, turning beef consommé into a simple beef broth is a huge waste of good time and effort, since beef consommé is a much harder and time-consuming recipe than beef broth in the first place. But if your recipe specifically calls for beef broth and all you have is beef consommé, you can surely use this method to substitute.
Can You Replace Beef Consommé with Beef Broth or Beef Stock?
If your recipe calls for beef consommé but all you have got is beef stock or beef broth, you can certainly make do.
Beef stock would be your best substitute for beef consommé since it has the most intense beef flavor among these options. You’ll need to make some changes to try to make it more similar to beef consommé, though. Since beef stock is not seasoned, you will need to season it with salt and other spices based on your preference.
Another great substitute for beef consommé is beef broth. After all, beef consommé is very similar to beef broth, it is only more concentrated and thicker in consistency. Naturally, it has a more pronounced beef flavor than beef broth. So, you can reduce your beef broth to concentrate and enhance the beef flavor as well as thicken its consistency to make it more similar to beef consommé. Though neither of these two substitutes is exactly like beef consommé, they will do just fine in a pinch.