Saturday, April 20, 2013

Roast Young Capon with Wild Rice and Almond Stuffing

A capon is a castrated rooster. It used to be available in the supermarket when I was a child. Now, apparently, you have to go someplace like Eastern Market in DC, or a "heritage poultry producer" to get one. I just went with the Purdue Oven-Stuffer-Roaster. Capons are more juicy and tender than regular poultry. They are not aggressive, so they are a real addition to the chicken yard. Although I hate to plug part of the agribusiness industrial complex, Oven-Stuffer-Roasters are pretty tender and juicy themselves.
As far as the wild rice, I don't know where ours came from. Bob dug it out of the depths of our pantry. I do my best to clear the pantry out, either by outright throwing things away that are way beyond the pull date, or by eating them. But it's a losing battle. I imagine you can get wild rice at Whole Foods or your local health food store.
If this dish catches your fancy, you should know a couple of things. A. Wild rice takes forever to cook, at least an hour. One cooks it like regular rice, in boiling water. (B) Capons, and Oven-Stuffer-Roasters are big. They take longer to cook. So if you want to eat at 7:00 or 7:30, start the wild rice around 3:30.
This recipe would be a good option for Easter dinner, or even Thanksgiving if you had only a few guests. It is time consuming, but is not fussy. You stuff the chicken, put it in the oven and set the timer. We had it for an unexpected dinner party on Saturday night. I had invited my brother to come over and see Bob's photos of Italy. Then Bob invited three more friends, so I had to jump to and make appetizers and dessert.
I kind of blitzed out on the fact that wild rice takes forever to cook, and didn't put the chicken in the oven until around 6:00. I cranked the heat up to 400 degrees. We ate around 8:30, which made Bob nervous. If I had had any intention of taking the chicken out early, it was quashed by Tim, who inquired what the meat thermometer had to say, and announced at 7:45 that the indicator had not reached the required temperature for poultry.
At 8:30, after the oysters in cream, the temperature inside the chicken had reached 180 degrees as required and we ate. The guests were all compliments and we had leftover chicken to make creamed chicken Parmesan. Yum.

Roast Young Capon with Wild Rice and Almond Stuffing

1 five-pound to six-pound capon
8 tablespoons butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely diced green pepper
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups cooked wild rice
1/2 cup toasted almonds
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon thyme

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Rub the capon inside and outside with two tablespoons of the butter. Sprinkle inside with salt and pepper.
3. Heat four tablespoons of the butter in a skillet and cook the garlic, onion, green pepper and celery in it, stirring, until onion is translucent.
4. In a separate skillet, cook the mushrooms in remaining butter until mushrooms are wilted.
5. Combine the wild rice, onion mixture, mushrooms, almonds, sage and thyme. Add salt and pepper. Stuff the capon with the mixture. Truss capon.
6. Place the capon, breast side up, on a rack in the roasting pan and place in the oven. Immediately reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. Bake capon, basting frequently with pan juices, twenty to twenty-five minutes to the pound. Six servings.

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