Anyone who has had a brush with Shakespeare or watched a decent movie about The Middle Ages or Renaissance has heard the word “capon”. Only an unknown exotic term for most people. Maybe something Henry the Eighth ate too much of.
There’s no way around one big fact: it’s a castrated rooster. That was not done because the hen house needed a high tenor. It was done because it creates a much larger and flavorful roasted bird.
Why are they “rare” and a bit more expensive? Because they cannot be rushed to the slaughter, and once that is done, they must be frozen because only those who have tasted the difference realize its better than chicken and, to many, more succulent than turkey! So if you’ve had 20 turkeys in 20 years take a chance on capon. There he is, in the freezer at Mert’s. And remember, he gave up everything for you. That’s stretching it a bit, I know, but I have cooked it, it’s more than worth it. Here’s an easy recipe.
After thawing the capon, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Remove neck and giblets from inside the capon, then rinse it out with cold water. Using a paper towel, pat it dry and get ready to stuff it with:
2 lemons, cut in two; 1 onion cut into quarters; add 4 smashed garlic cloves; a sprig of rosemary or thyme; a few sage leaves or a bit of oregano.
Tie up the capon, legs crossed to keep the herbs in.
Rub the outside of the bird with this mixture:
1 soft stick of butter (1/4 lb); salt and pepper to taste; 2 teaspoons lemon juice; half a handful of herbs, fresh is best, from whatever you have of this group – parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, summer savory.
Now into the oven. Place the capon breast side down, into a V-rack in a roasting pan. This will make the skin more crisp and saves cleanup on the pan bottom. Pour water in the roasting pan to prevent the drippings from burning. Baste the bird with pan drippings.
Roast for 20 minutes then flip it over so that the breast is now up. Back into the oven, reducing the heat to 350 to 375 degrees F and roast until the thigh meat is internal temperature of 165 degrees F (do not touch the bone with the thermometer). Remember when you take him out to let him rest for 15 minutes. This is very important.
Meanwhile add some ice cubes to the poured off pan juices – this will make it easier to remove the fat. Add a half cup of sherry to the juices and make your gravy in the usual manner.
Shakespeare would be proud of you because there are more recipes for capon than there are actual capons. So call us ahead of time for your order.
by Alan Coe