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Ham And Pigeon Steamed In Soup

4 x pigeons each weighing about 225g
25 gm Parrna ham or lean English smoked bacon
4 slc fresh ginger
11/10 lt chicken and pork stock (qv)
4 x spring onions
2 tbl dry sherry or rice wine
1/2 tsp salt

Using a sharp heavy knife or cleaver cut the pigeons into quarters.

Bring a pot of water to the boil turn the heat down and add the pigeons.

Simmer them in the water for 10 minutes. (This blanching rids the pigeons of some of their fat and impurities.)

Remove them with a slotted spoon and discard the water.

Cut the Parma ham

or bacon into very fine shreds and cut the ginger into slices 5cm x 5cm).

Set a rack into a wok or deep pan.

Fill it with 6cm of water and bring it to the boil.

Bring the stock to the boil in another large pot and then pour it into a heatproof glass or china casserole.

Add the pigeon ham spring onions ginger sherry or rice wine

and salt to the casserole and cover it with a lid or foil.

Put the casserole on the rack and cover the wok or deep pan tightly with a lid or foil.

You now have a casserole within a steamer hence the name double steaming.

Turn the heat down and steam gently for 23 hours or until the pigeon is tender.

Replenish the hot water from time to time.

An alternative method is simply to si mmer the soup very slowly in a conventional pot but the resulting taste will be quite different.

When the soup is cooked remove all the ingredients with a slotted spoon and discard the spring onions ginger anf ham.

Serve the soup together with the pigeon pieces.

The soup can be served immediately or cooled and stored in thc refrigerator or freezer to be re heated when required.

This unusual technique fomnaking soup is not difficult to master. It is called double steaming a process in which rich ingredients are steamed for hours in a covered casserole which is filled with soup. This extracts all the flavours from the ingredients and is a technique often used for making the classic Sharks Fin and Birds Nest Soups. The result is a distinctive soup clear and rich but also light. Game birds other than pigeon such as partridge snipe woodcock or quail would work equally well. This soup is particularly suitable for a dinner party. For easy planning I would make it in advance and freeze it as it re heats well.

Serves 4

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