Holiday Recipe: Roasted Capon with Cognac-Mushroom Sauce

What’s a capon? We call it the super chicken. A capon is a rooster that is gelded at a young age and raised until it’s between 7 and 12 pounds.

Bigger than a hen, with a broad breast, the capon makes the perfect holiday bird (a great alternative to turkey at Thanksgiving). In fact, it’s quite common to find roasted capon at the Christmas table in both France and Italy.

In Bresse, celebrated for raising some of the finest poultry in France, the capon is considered the “king of the table.” This superb recipe does justice to that title, making you feel a bit noble as you serve it. The bird and its luscious sauce are worth an indulgence. Don’t worry about adding any fat to the pan; the bird begins roasting on its back and quickly begins to render its fat.

Roast Capon with Cognac-Mushroom Sauce

  • 1 pound mushrooms (Organic Chef’s Mix), wiped and thinly sliced (about 7 cups)
  • 1½ cups dry white wine
  • 1 (8-pound) capon, giblets, neck, and excess fat removed, patted dry
  • 1½ teaspoons each salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1 tablespoon Cognac
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon potato starch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

Serve with Sautéed Parsleyed Potatoes (recipe follows)

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Combine mushrooms and wine in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and boil gently for 10 minutes. Set pan aside off heat.
  3. Season capon with 1 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper, and the herbes de Provence, and place bird on its back in a roasting pan. Turn wing tips under. Roast in oven for 30 minutes, then turn over and roast it, breast side down, for 60 minutes. Finally, turn capon on back again, and roast for 10 additional minutes, for a total roasting time of 1 hour 40 minutes. (A thermometer inserted into the joint connecting a thigh and drumstick should register at least 160° F.) Transfer capon to an ovenproof platter, and keep warm in a 180° F. oven.
  4. Remove as much fat as possible from drippings in roasting pan, and add juice from mushrooms to pan. Heat mixture over high heat for a few seconds, stirring constantly to melt any solidified juices in pan, then pour resulting glaze through a strainer set over mushrooms. Add cream and Cognac to mushroom mixture, bring to a boil, and stir in dissolved potato starch. Mix in the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt and pepper, and the tarragon.
  5. While capon is roasting, prepare Sautéed Potatoes (below).
  6. Carve capon and serve it, with or without bones, with some of the sauce.

Sautéed Parsleyed Potatoes

  • 3 pounds large potatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoons capon, goose, or duck fat (add more as needed)
  • 6 large cloves garlic
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Peel potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes, and place in a large bowl of cold water to cover. Once all potatoes are cut, drain water from bowl, and fill again. Potatoes may be left in water for several hours.
  2. Heat duck fat in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drain potatoes, and blot dry on paper towels. Add to hot fat, and cook until crisp and browned on all sides, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes. While potatoes are cooking, finely mince garlic and parsley together. Season potatoes with salt, pepper, and garlic-parsley mixture, turning to coat evenly.

Order your holiday capon here. 

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