This clear soup is dark amber-coloured, from the onion skin and the browning of the bones used to make the stock. Its deep flavour is obtained by cooking fresh pheasant and vegetables in the stock before clarifying it. Consommé is time-consuming to prepare, but well worth it for special occasions. It can be made in advance, and stored for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen.
Remove the meat from the birds, keeping the breasts for another dish, and finely mince or shred the meat from the thighs and drumsticks, and put it on one side. Chop up the carcasses, and brown in a hot oven or large heavy saucepan. Take one onion, quarter it but do not peel, and add to the carcasses in the pan. Take one carrot, the leek and the tomatoes, and wash and trim as appropriate. Then slice them, and add to the pan, together with 6–8 parsley stalks, one bay leaf, the peppercorns, the cloves and the orange zest. Cover with the water, and bring slowly to the boil. Skim off the grey foam that rises to the surface, partially cover with a lid, and cook on the lowest possible heat for 3–4 hours. Do not let the stock boil, as this makes it cloudy. Skim off the foam from time to time. Carefully strain through a fine sieve lined with scalded muslin into a bowl, and then cover, cool and refrigerate. The recipe can be prepared to this stage the day before, but remember also to refrigerate the meat until needed.
When ready to prepare the consommé, remove the layer of fat that will have congealed on the surface of the chilled stock, and put the stock in a large saucepan. Peel or trim and very finely chop the remaining vegetables, and add to the pan with the the minced pheasant, remaining bay leaf and parsley stalks and the egg white. Heat gently, whisking continuously, until the egg white has formed a foamy mass on the surface. Lower the heat, and simmer very gently for 1½-2 hours. Do not let the contents of the pan boil or the foam will break up and cloud the stock once more. Place a scalded jelly bag or a sieve lined with scalded muslin over a clean bowl, and carefully pour the contents of the pan through it. The foamy cooked egg white will be left in the muslin. Carefully pour the consommé through it once more into another clean bowl or saucepan, leaving any remaining impurities trapped in the foam. Reheat, season to taste, and serve with toast or croûtons.
Chicken and beef consommés can be made the same way.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.