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.
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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.