Although the holidays are long past and this is not a particularly blog-worthy post in terms of stunning photos, this capon recipe is worth sharing for future holiday meals. I’m also forcing myself out of isolation from an illness that has dragged on for weeks by sharing something that doesn’t require me having to think too much. I translated the recipe from here without making any changes, other than substituting my alcohol-free white wine for the cognac and gluten-free bread crumbs for the regular, and adding herbes de Provence as seasoning to the capon.
In case you’re still in the dark, a capon – chapon in French, pronounced sha-pawn, except you make the last bit all nasaly and don’t pronounced a hard n – a capon is a very large bird. Mine was 3.16 kilos, or 6.6 pounds.
I made this dish for my parents-in-law on Christmas Day and was more focused on enjoying the day (and the food) than I was on creating perfect pictures. (Or really, any pictures at all). You’ve been warned! However, if you’re looking for a main dish to serve for the holidays, you can’t go wrong with this one and the instructions should suffice.
Take the bird out of the refrigerator 2 hours before you’re ready to cook it and snip any strings that are tying it together. Remove anything that might be stuffed on the inside, although I think they tend to do that for turkey more than chicken. Before you cook it, pre-heat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Then, take 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 2 tablespoons olive oil, mix it together, and massage it into the capon. Generously salt the bird, and less-generously pepper it, then spinkle herbes de Provence everywhere. At the risk of repeating myself here, make sure you massage all the seasoning into every nook and cranny, even the inside of the capon. It will taste better if the inside is seasoned too. (Sorry for the squeamish among you).
Now it’s time to make the stuffing.
You’ll need bacon, bread crumbs, milk, ground sausage, lemon zest, shallot, onion, parsley, eggs, wine or cognac, salt and pepper, and chestnuts. I’ll put the exact measurements at the bottom. I toasted my gluten-free bread (120 grams or 1/2 lb) and put it in the blender to grind it in pieces. Then I put it in a bowl with just enough milk to make the crumbs wet, but not liquid. I’m sorry I have no photos of the stuffing-making process. I didn’t intend to share this recipe on my blog until I actually tasted it and I knew I had to.
I lightly stir-fried 50 grams of bacon (4 or 5 pieces) and chopped them in pieces, adding that plus 200 grams of ground sausage (raw) to the bread-crumbs. Then the seasoning : zest from a lemon, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, a shallot and an onion minced, 20 grams of parsley, chopped, 2 eggs, a tablespoon cognac or (in our case, 2 tablespoons alcohol-free white wine). When this is all mixed together, add eight chopped chestnuts and stuff the whole thing inside the chicken.
Take a needle and thread and sew the opening shut. You can see below that the stuffing starts to expand a bit when cooking, but the black threads are keeping it in (and they’re also visible and easy to remove when you’re ready to serve the capon).
Pour a glass of white wine and two glasses of water in the pan, and put it at the bottom of the oven at 170° C for one hour. Here it is after one hour – beginning to brown, but far from being ready.
After an hour, lower the temperature to 150°C (300°F) and cook for another two hours.
Throughout the 3 hours of cooking, you’ll want to take it out every 20-30 minutes and pour the juice from the pan over the capon to keep it from drying out.
This is the first time I’ve successfully slow-cooked meat and I was really happy with the result.
When you’ve cooked the capon, the first thing you want to do is scoop out the stuffing and put it in a bowl. Make sure to remove all the thread from sewing it shut.
Then cut the capon into pieces (poultry shears are better than knives for this). I’ve given some instructions on how to do that here. More of the juice will be released when you cut it, and you can take the drippings from the capon and mix it in a saucepan with a little bit of cream – just enough to lighten it in colour. I put that in a gravy dish and poured it over the meat and stuffing when I served it.
Serve the capon piping hot with whipped sweet potatoes
and green beans, stir-fried in garlic and butter.
And with the stuffing, of course.
And there you have your perfect, festive capon recipe! It’s so delicious, I promise you. Here is the handy print version, or you can just pin the image and save it for your next holiday.
What did you make for Christmas dinner?
- 1 capon, around 3 kilos (6-7 lbs)
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence for seasoning
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups water
- 50 grams bacon (4-5 pieces)
- 120 grams white bread, toasted
- enough milk to wet the bread
- 200 grams ground sausage (.25 lbs)
- zest from a lemon
- 1 shallot
- 1 onion
- 20 grams parsley
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon cognac (I used 2 tablespoons alcohol-free white wine)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 8 chestnuts
- Cream - ⅛ or ¼ cup to make the gravy
- A needle and thread
- Take the capon out of the refrigerator 2 hours in advance. Cut the strings.
- A half-hour before you're ready to serve, massage the capon, inside and out with butter and olive oil, then salt and pepper generously, and sprinkle with herbes de Provence.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C or 325°F and make the stuffing.
- Fry the bacon and toast the bread.
- Crumble the bread (I used a Cuisinart).
- Pour enough milk to wet the bread - a couple tablespoons should do it.
- Mince the onion and shallot and add those and the cooked bacon to the bread crumbs.
- Add to the bread mix the raw ground sausage, chopped parsley, 2 eggs, cognac or wine, salt and pepper, lemon zest. Mix that thoroughly with your fingers.
- Add the 8 chopped, cooked chestnuts. (Canned is fine).
- Stuff it inside the capon and sew the opening shut.
- Add a cup of wine and 2 cups water to the bottom of the pan.
- Cook at 170° for one hour.
- Then cook at 150°C (300°F) for 2 hours.
- Throughout the three hours' cooking, take the capon out every 20 to 30 minutes to pour the juice from the bottom of the pan over the top.
- When it's done, snip the threads you used to sew the capon shut and remove them.
- Take all the drippings from the pan and mix about ⅛ or ¼ cup heavy cream. Heat in a saucepan to form a gravy, 5 minutes or so.
If you’d like to see more French recipes, click here for my recipe page!