Christmas Capon
PREP TIME: 3 1/2 Hours
SERVES: 6 - 8

Most folks know that capon is the name given to a castrated rooster. The capon dates back to the time of the Greeks and Romans. This bird is known for its oversized, meaty breast and tender, super-moist texture. I first experienced capon at the suggestion of Olga Hirsch, a fabulous French cook living in Donaldsonville. She always served capon as the centerpiece for Christmas lunch. I remember her saying, "Christmas is not Christmas without capon."


  • 1 (4 to 6-pound) capon
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsps basil, chopped
  • 4 tbsps thyme, chopped
  • 4 tbsps tarragon, chopped
  • 2 tbsps rosemary, chopped
  • 3 tbsps garlic, minced
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 2 red apples, diced
  • 2 green apples, diced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock

If you should purchase a frozen bird, thaw in the refrigerator for 2 days. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse the bird well under cold running water and place in the center of a roasting pan or Dutch oven. Season the bird generously, inside and out, using salt and pepper. In a small bowl, blend softened butter with all of the chopped herbs and garlic. Rub the herb paste under the breast skin of the bird and over the outer skin, distributing evenly. Any remaining herb paste should be placed in the pan around the base of the bird. Place the giblets in the pan and surround the bird with the diced vegetables and apples. Cover tightly with aluminum foil or the lid of the Dutch oven and roast, covered, for 2 1/2 hours. Check for tenderness at 2 hours. The bird will be ready when the legs wiggle freely at the joints. Uncover and allow to brown for approximately 30 minutes. When bird is done, remove from the roasting pan and keep warm. Make a sauce from the pan drippings by removing as much of the fat as possible from the pan without disturbing the natural drippings. Place the pan over high heat to caramelize the remaining juices, but be careful not to burn. Deglaze the drippings with wine, scraping the pan with a spatula. Add chicken stock, bring to a low boil and reduce to approximately 1 cup. Strain through a fine sieve and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with sliced capon. This sauce is also excellent served over pasta as a side dish to the capon.

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