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Posts tagged ‘capon’

Save 15% Off Holiday Helpers!

While the holiday bird may take center table (ours truly are stars!), the supporting cast of savory side dishes is just as important. We’re offering some of our favorite ingredients for those dishes at 15% off this week.

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Add flavor and texture to your basic stuffing with our mushrooms or chestnuts. And don’t make a holiday feast without black truffle butter – whether under the turkey skin or in mashed potatoes, it lends a rich, earthy flavor that is completely unique.

Enrich your gravy with our duck and veal demi-glace for silky body and great depth of flavor. Green beans are a holiday standard but have you tried them sautéed in duck fat? Sublime.

Take the stress out of Thanksgiving with 15% off these holiday helpers  – but only until Sunday, November 16th at midnight EST.

And if you haven’t pre-ordered your bird, there’s still time. Click through to peruse your options – we’ve got heritage breed, organic or wild turkeys. And for those who plan a small holiday gathering, we offer bone-in turkey breast and free-range capon.

 

All About Capon

A capon is a male chicken that is gelded, or castrated, at a young age, and then fed a rich diet of milk or porridge until it reaches 6 to 12 pounds, between the age of 5 and 6 months. The flesh is very white and, unlike that of other chickens, marbled with fat. Larger than a chicken, a bit smaller than a turkey, but more flavorful than either, capons are full breasted with tender, juicy, flavorful meat that is well suited to roasting.

They tend to taste less gamy than an intact rooster would, and yield moist tender meat with high fat content. Because of its size, the capon is a good choice to feed a dinner party, or even a small Thanksgiving gathering in place of turkey.

Caponization is done either by surgical removal of the testes, or, as some factory poultry producers prefer, by estrogen implants. Capons that are labeled “all natural” have been surgically caponized. Because of the loss of sex hormones, the normally aggressive barnyard rooster becomes a docile, mellow creature. Capons can be housed together as they will not fight for dominance, which makes the process of raising them a lot easier on the farmer. Capons are less active because of the neutralization of sex hormones so their flesh does not become tough and muscled but instead is fatty and tender. Other physical changes to a capon include a smaller head, comb and wattle.

History
While humankind has been eating chicken for a long time—at least since 4000 BC in Asia—the capon’s history is a bit murkier. When it was first decided to castrate a young male chicken and then fatten it up is open for debate, but some lay it at the doorstep of the Romans. A law was passed during a period of drought (162 BC) forbidding the fattening of hens, as it was deemed a waste of precious grain. Wily breeders skirted the letter of the law by instead castrating roosters and fattening them for sale, though these capons were much larger than hens, so they must have eaten plenty of grain. The name “capon” comes from the Latin “capo,” meaning “cut.” Through the Middle Ages, capons were especially popular with the clergy and kings, and thus popularized throughout Europe, where capon was stuffed, roasted, stewed and baked into pies. In present-day France and Italy, capons are traditionally served at Christmas.

Cooking
Capons require longer cooking times than typical chickens because of their larger size. Roasting capons at lower temperatures helps bring out the flavor, but also adds to the cooking time. As a general rule, a capon should be roasted for 17 minutes per pound, so a 10 lb. bird would require a total roasting time of just under 3 hours. The poultry is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the capon’s thigh reads 165 degrees or the juices run clear. Whether poached or stuffed and roasted, capons offer rich taste and lots of meat to go around the table.

RECIPE SUGGESTIONS:
Roasted Capon with Chestnut Honey
Capon Poule au Pot with Foie Gras Stuffing
Capon with Mango Glaze
Roasted Capon with Mushroom Truffle Stuffing
Roasted Capon with Cognac Mushroom Sauce
Sweet Chestnut Stuffed Capon

D’Artagnan Thanksgiving Survival Guide: Day 14

Here is an easy, straightforward method good for oven roasting a perfect capon for the holidays, or anytime you want to serve this fabulous bird. The method works for birds whether or not stuffed with dressing. Truss the capon first, as it will make turning the bird easier and help prevent the skin from tearing at the joints in the process. It is also a good method for roasting other large chickens.

The Holiday Capon Part 2

 

Two Stage Roasting

Roasting begins on the lower middle oven rack in a preheated 450°F oven, then 30 minutes into the roasting the heat is reduced to 350°F for the remainder of the cooking time. This jump-starts the browning process and sears the meat, sealing in precious juices. As mentioned, you turn the bird a few times in the process, and baste every 10 or 15 minutes. Rub the capon with our pure, renderedduck fat, lightly softened before gently ‘massaging’ it into the skin. Season the capon with a good salt and freshly ground pepper before putting it in the oven, and baste with melted duck fat until the bird creates enough of its own pan juices for basting.

If you are using an x-shaped rack, you can start the bird breast down for about 15 minutes. Then turn the bird on one side for 20 minutes, then onto its other side for 20 minutes. After that, turn the bird breast up and finish roasting. You can easily coordinate this with your basting. If you use a flat rack, forget about starting breast down, and instead start roasting on one side, then turn onto the other, giving each side an extra five minutes, and finish roasting breast up.

For a 7- pound capon, this should take about 1-1/2 hours. Use a quick read meat thermometer to test the internal temperature for doneness. Transfer it Read more

D’Artagnan Thanksgiving Survival Guide: Day 12

If you are considering an intimate holiday for two, or even a dinner party of six, and in a quandary about the practicality of a full on turkey versus stuffed chicken to stand-in for a celebrity bird, there is no need to fret any further, because we have the perfect solution. Forget about those two this holiday, and do something truly special and better scaled to your needs, by oven roasting a capon.

The Holiday Capon (Part 1)

 

Smaller than a Turkey – Bigger than a Basic Chicken

If you are not familiar with this hefty bird, do not think for a minute that a capon is a compromise you have to make because you are not feeding a small army. Quite the contrary, these extraordinary birds are raised exclusively to be a culinary treat of the highest order. Plump breasted with prized, white flesh wonderfully marbled with fat; capons are destined for greatness and can easily carry any holiday feast. It can be especially gratifying for the cook, as this is not a bird upstaged by any dressing or side dish. When you are lucky enough to have the pleasure of eating an oven-roasted capon, you will find the meat distinctively flavorful, lusciously rich and moist, and tender beyond belief. So much so, that this could be the start of a new tradition. At the very least, you will not want to wait another whole year before enjoying one again.

The News Just Keeps Getting Better
Another beauty is that there is no elaborate recipe, complex technique, or special handling required. Fill this bird with your favorite dressing, or season the cavity with a good sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and truss it. After, you just rub it with softened, rendered duck fat, salt and pepper the skin and oven roast, similarly to roasting a large chicken. You might even want to try on some new cooking methods to go with your new bird. In the Gascon countryside, capons are the traditional Sunday Chicken cooked as Poule au pot – slowly poached in a pot of vegetables and rich stock, and stuffed with a delicious soft dressing. Here are links to two of our favorite capon recipes.

Capon Poule au Pot with Foie Gras Stuffing
Truffled Capon with Wild Mushrooms

The Well Trussed Capon
When roasting a capon for your holiday meal, truss it much the same as you would a turkey or a chicken. Remove the wishbone, and bind the bird so that its drumsticks rest nicely in place against the tip of the breastbone, with the wing tips folded back neatly beneath the shoulders. It will make for a beautiful shape, cook more evenly and be easier to carve. This is especially brilliant because capons are the perfect bird to carve at the table. Large enough to be grand, they make for an impressive entrance, yet they are small enough to manage easily. Use the links below to learn how to quick roast the perfect capon, and remove the wishbone before trussing.