Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Starting 2023 Right -- With a Capon

I have not posted much for the last couple of years, feeling a bit paralyzed by the COVID crisis, although I suffered only a minor case in early 2022. No, it was the first year of forced cooking all the time that kind of knocked a lot of the joy out of food. The second year was much better, with restaurants open and many dinners out with friends.

But this year I hope to do better and am starting early with my capon dinner in Paris the other night.

The French love to eat capons (chapons) for Christmas and New Year's dinners. I tried to make one a few years ago and it was a disaster. I think the problem was my lack of mastery over my oven. This year I decided to try again, and had a great success. Here's how I did it.

I checked Jacques Pépin's Essential Pépin and found a recipe for capon with Armagnac mushroom and cream sauce. Then I ordered a capon from our very good local butcher in Paris. Is this not gorgeous?

Uncooked capon

The butcher told me to simply cook the capon, which weighed 3-1/2 kilos (nearly 8 pounds) for 3 hours at 170 degrees celsius (355 farenheit), starting with the bird in a cold oven. Jacques' instructions were slightly different but I went with the butcher's. My only embellishment was to cook it breast up for the first hour, breast down for the second hour, and finally breast up for the third hour. It came out perfectly, with crispy skin and tender, moist and flavorful meat.

Roasted capon

For sauce I used Jacques' recipe, boiling lots of mushrooms of many varieties in chicken stock and vermouth, then adding cream, Armagnac and a cornstarch slurry at the end, then boiling it briefly. The sauce was delicious, a perfect accompaniment for the capon.

As you can see, I was crowned  LE ROI DU CHAPON by our New Year's guests.

Le Roi du Chapon

Happy New Year!

Bobby Jay

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