So, a few of you might have seen my Twitter post back in the winter, when I finally found a capon for sale at the local grocery store, of all places. I think I actually frightened a store clerk when I gave a little shriek-gasp of delight and disbelief before hurrying around to clutch the bird protectively; there were approximately 23 other capons for sale in the same case, but having searched high and low for one, no way was I letting anyone take MY capon.
And it’s been in the freezer ever since. Let me make something clear: I don’t have one of those amazing huge modern fridges. Mine came with the house, and while it’s perfectly adequate, it’s not exactly spacious. So a giant capon taking up valuable tater-tot room in the freezer was something that finally had to change.
For those who don’t know, a capon is essentially a gelded rooster. A eunuch, as it were, which accounts for both its size and tasty plumpness. They were all the rage in historical cooking, but have mostly fallen out of fashion nowadays, with the exception of Christmas dinners in some families. We will now be taking up that tradition, as well!
This was my first time actually cooking a capon, but given everything else that has passed through my kitchen, I wasn’t too worried. Once again, the historical recipe did not disappoint. The meat was lightly flavored from the stuffing (possibly too lightly, so take that into account if you try your hand at this recipe!), rich with juices and steaming. With the exception of the delicious dark meat, I didn’t find that the capon tasted too terribly different from a well-roasted chicken, but the overall tenderness of the meat made every bite just a little special. The bird was considerably larger than your average roasting chicken, which made it ideal for feeding about 6 people that night at The Inn. Plus, it made a delicious broth the next day, which will turn up in another post soon!
Now, just to deal with those frozen camel patties…
Recipe for Roast Capon
To rost capon or gose tak and drawe his leuer and his guttes at the vent and his grece at the gorge and tak the leef of grece parsly ysope rosmarye and ij lengs of saige and put to the grece and hew it smale and hew yolks of eggs cromed raissins of corans good poudurs saffron and salt melled to gedure and fers the capon there withe and broche hym and let hym be stanche at the vent and at the gorge that the stuffur go not out and rost hym long with a soking fyere and kep the grece that fallithe to baist hym and kepe hym moist till ye serue hym and sauce hym with wyne and guingere as capons be. -A Noble Boke off Cookry, 15th c.
Cook’s note: I served this, as suggested, with a ginger-wine sauce. That recipe, along with the Stewed Capon, are forthcoming. :)
- 1 8-10 lb. capon, giblets removed
- 3-4 large shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tsp. each rosemary, hyssop, parsley, and sage
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup dried currants
- pinch of salt
- pinch of saffron (expensive, and optional)
Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash and pat dry the capon, then combine all remaining ingredients except the oil, and stuff the bird with them. spread the oil over the bird, and sprinkle with salt.
Periodically basting as you go, roast for 1.5-2 hours, depending on the size of your bird, until the juices run clear. Remove to a serving dish and let sit for several minutes. If you would like to make a gravy at this point, you can move the pan to the stovetop over medium heat and gradually whisk in a little flour until you have a delicious thick sauce.