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Posts tagged ‘chicken recipes’

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

Featured Recipe: Chicken with Autumn Vegetables and Madeira

This wonderful recipe is adapted from Chef Frank Stitt’s excellent cookbook, Southern Table. The warming dish is Chef Stitt’s version of coq au vin, made with Madeira instead of red wine, served over puréed root vegetables and topped with crispy bits of country ham. We think it’s the perfect dish for rainy fall weather.

photo courtesy of Artisan Publishing

Chicken with Autumn Vegetables and Madeira
Serves 8

Ingredients

For the Autumn Vegetable Puree:

2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 small carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
1/2 medium rutabaga, peeled, trimmed and cut ino small chunks
1 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Chicken:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Organic Free-Range Chicken, 3 to 4 lbs, rinsed and cut into serving pieces
Salt and coarsely-ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 cup medium-dry Madeira
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
2 to 3 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
2 slices country ham, thin slices, cut into thin julienne strips

Glazed Root Vegetables, if desired

Preparation
1. In a large heavy sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high and sear the pieces on all sides until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a rack set over a baking sheet and set aside.

2. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the pan over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook until softened and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the Madeira and white wine, bring to a boil, and reduce by three-quarters. Add the broth, thyme, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer.

3. Place the chicken in a casserole and pour the simmering broth over it. Cover the chicken with parchment paper, then cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil and braise in the oven until tender, about 15 minutes for the breast and 45 to 55 minutes for the dark meat. Remove the pieces as they are done and transfer to a rack set over a baking sheet.

4. Strain the braising liquid into a large saucepan and set the pan over medium-high heat, half on and half off the burner so you can easily skim off the fat as it rises to the cooler side of the pan. Reduce by about half, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter bit by bit, swirling it into the sauce. Add the chicken to the pan and heat through.

5. Spoon the vegetable purée onto individual plates. Arrange the chicken next to the purée and then the glazed vegetables (if serving) alongside. Garnish with the little strips of country ham.

Happy National Fried Chicken Day!

Crispy, crunchy, juicy, tender!

Fried chicken is American comfort food at its best. It’s also a hotly debated topic: pan-fried or deep-fried, flour dredge or cornmeal crust, buttermilk or brine, peanut oil or duck fat?

Whichever method and ingredients you prefer, we can think of no better day to cook up a big batch than National Fried Chicken Day.

Here’s one of our favorite recipes! It’s the version Chef Thomas Keller serves at Ad Hoc, and it’s got a cult-following. And check out our handy how-to on making perfect pan-fried chicken. Bon appetit!

恭喜发财! Happy Chinese New Year!

Today marks the first day of the year of the water dragon, one of the most revered years of the Chinese calendar. It’s sure to bring good fortune and excitement! Food (and food symbolism) will play a big part in the next few weeks of celebrations. Here are some dishes for good luck in the coming year.

Anita Lo's Pekin Duck with Hoisin and Figs

In Chinese culture, duck symbolizes luck and fidelity. Here’s a fantastic recipe from one of our favorite chefs, Anita Lo. Her Breast of Duck with Hoisin and Figs mixes classic, Chinese flavors with a whimsical presentation. Or try this recipe for Roasted Pekin Duck with Shallot Confit, Asparagus, Shitake and Lily Bulb Stir Fry by Mercer Kitchen’s Chris Beischer. Cambridge, Massachusetts chef, Jason Bond puts a smoky twist on a classic roast duck with his Holiday Hu-Kwa Duck which is cured with salt and smoked Hu-Kwa tea before being roasted and basted in it’s own juices.

Blue Ribbon Restaurant's Duck with Orange-Cassis Sauce

Fresh oranges symbolize wealth and unity. This easy recipe for Pekin Duck with Orange Cassis Sauce is warming and rich, perfect for winter. And if you ask us, you can’t go wrong with a classic Duck a l’Orange.

Eat stir-fried greens for wealth since the Cantonese word for lettuce sounds like “growing fortune.” Marcus Samuelsson’s Greens combine winter kale with sweet, baby bok choy and Asian flavors like soy sauce, mirin, ginger and lemongrass. Delicious!

Fried Dumplings also symbolize wealth with their golden color and ingot shape. For a decadent French spin, try these Deep Fried Dumplings with Foie Gras and Chicken Livers.

The golden color of fried spring rolls equals good fortune. Try our recipe for Duck Confit Spring Rolls with Cashews and Sweet Potatoes. (a double whammy of golden deliciousness!)

Red is a lucky color during Chinese New Year and red-cooked chicken is a classic “lucky” dish, symbolizing happiness and good fortune. Mark Bittman’s version of  Soy Poached Chicken is delicious and easy to make at home. Or try this sophisticated Twice Cooked Chicken with Shiitake Mushrooms, Ginger Garlic Relish and Star Anise Broth from Highlands chef, Chris Rendell.

Whichever dishes you indulge in, we wish you prosperity, good health and lots of luck in the new year! And as our Chinese friends say, 吉慶有餘! (May your happiness be without limit!)

D’Artagnan Thanksgiving Survival Guide: Day 15

We love turkey. We also love chicken. And, naturally, our love for all things duck is hardly in question. If you love these beautiful, bountiful birds as much as we do, why not have all three at once? That’s right, we’re talking about turducken, that gorgeous – and some say egregious – Cajun concoction made from a stuffed, deboned chicken inside a stuffed, deboned duck inside a stuffed, mostly deboned turkey (the wings and legs stay on the outside of the third bird, for presentation’s sake), roasted in toto, like a loaf. When properly prepared, cooked and carved, you get three delicious birds, three stuffings, no bones, all together in a single slice on your plate, smothered in spicy gravy. Magical.

 All About Turducken

Today, turducken has become a Thanksgiving treat for many Americans, and more than a handful of hungry foreigners, and most people who know a thing or two about food recognize what you’re talking about when you mention the beloved turducken. This, however, was not always the case. Stories of the tri-bird roast’s origins vary, though everyone will concede that it was invented by Cajun folk in south Louisiana. The most popular theory is that the dish was invented at Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Maurice, Louisiana around 1985, when a local farmer brought in three birds and asked the butchers there to go ahead and debone them and stuff, stuff, stuff. But the big turn of the tide in turducken popularity surely came about in 1997 because of sports commentator John Madden, of all people, who was given the roast by the kind folks at the Gourmet Butcher Block in Gretna, Louisiana. His love for the dish was so deep that Madden wound up on air talking more about the turducken than about the football game. And, since American football fans are known to have a deep appreciation for all things meaty, the turducken’s star began its steep ascent.

No, John Madden did not invent the turducken. Nor did Hebert’s in Maurice, not really. The idea of stuffing one animal into another and roasting them all together has been around as far back as ancient Rome. During the middle ages, overeager lords would have their royal kitchen staff shove as many beasts inside each other as they could, for the sheer entertainment value of it all. In his 1807 Almanach des Gourmands, gastronomist Grimod de La Reynière documented his rôti sans pareil (“roast without equal”), a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, apheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, alapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan, and a garden warbler. The turducken seems positively humble in comparison. Over the centuries, these kinds of dishes became known as “Russian doll roasts,” after the famous Matryoshka nesting dolls.

Looking to make your own turducken? A wise choice, if not an easy one. You can easily find three excellent birds here at D’Artagnan, as well as the sausage you’ll need for the spicy, meat-filled stuffing (the other two usually being cornbread and an oyster dressing), although deboning three birds in a manner that makes them easy enough to stuff with stuffing and then into each other requires some serious knife and poultry mastery. We recommend taking your birds to a professional for this task, as did that unknown farmer in Maurice all those years ago. Feel free to play around with your ingredients: try using bacon in the stuffing, experimenting with different types of sausages, or employing flecks of shaved truffles for a real gourmet kick. And, if that doesn’t satisfy your ambitions, you can always buy a small pig and create what’s known as the fowl de cochon, which is, you guessed it: a turducken stuffed into a deboned swine, which will feed about thirty people. Now that, friends, is some delicious ambition.

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