Aside from the regular chicken and turkey, capon is also one of the poultry products that are best roasted. Although capon is not as popular as the two, its flavorful and tender meat is a delight to feast on especially during fancy events and major holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you have it for Thanksgiving (or really any occasion) it’s best to pair it with salads or roasted potatoes like this roasted potato recipe dressed in shallots and dill!
Are you wondering: why am I only hearing about capons now? They’ve been popular before and they’re considered a luxury. But, because it’s four times as expensive as the regular chicken, they more or less have disappeared into obscurity. So, when people nowadays come upon a capon on the menu list, they’d think it’s a gaming rooster. But really, they’re just a special type of chicken made for tender meat with a less gamy taste and smell. All these changes can be achieved through caponization.
Now, we’ve answered some questions that might be lingering on your mind about capon. In this article, we’ll discuss more about capons, including their difference vs chicken and turkey. We’ll also show you how to cook and prepare it so you’ll be ready to introduce this special poultry dish to your family in time for the next major holiday!
What Is Capon?
Many have been wondering what a capon really is. Is it poultry that’s different from chicken and turkey? Let’s clear the confusion!
Capon birds are simply neutered roosters (usually cockerels). In this case, castrated would be the right term, because all capons are roosters that have been castrated when they are just eight weeks old. The reason for this is because once they reach maturity, their meat is already dense. This makes the meat tougher when you cook it. Although they are quite different from normal roosters, they can be raised alongside them. But, you can also house them together with hens.
The reason for this is because castration and the lack of testosterone make them lose interest in mating. They also become less aggressive and energetic than regular roosters and hens. As a result, they are less likely to develop hard muscles which make for a flavorful, yet tender and juicier capon meat. After being neutered, they are said to be fed with either milk or porridge for a healthier diet.
Although capon chicken is different from the staple poultry we know, its health benefits don’t stray far from the regular ones. Nevertheless, they are slightly richer in Vitamin A, Vitamin B-9, and Vitamin B-3 that help lower cholesterol and help sustain mental and nervous system functions. Capon chicken is also a great source of energy that radically helps reduce tiredness and fatigue!
Capon vs Chicken vs Turkey
Chicken and turkey might be more popular, but that doesn’t mean they taste better!
Capons do taste better than chicken and turkey mainly because of the high-fat content that retains in capon even after cooking. Typically, your standard chicken becomes hard and not as juicy anymore when you overcook it. But when you cook capon, its fat can keep the meat nice and tender thanks to hormonal changes caused by caponization. Caponization gave way for more fat build-up that’s normally hard for regular poultry. Moreover, the added fat not only gives it tons of flavors, but fat also gives it a more aromatic and succulent smell.
Added to that, a capon is also larger than your average chicken but a bit smaller than a turkey. Once a capon reaches maturity, it will weigh six to 15 pounds. On the other hand, an average chicken weighs 5.7 pounds, and a turkey around 11 to 24 pounds. So, if you want something that sits between these two, then capon is your best choice.
Like turkey and chicken, capon’s tender and juicy meat are well suited for roasting. You simply have to replace the main ingredient with capon. To start, it works well with this roasted chicken recipe with lemon and feta cheese. This recipe renders tender and juicy chicken that we think is perfect for capon too!
READ ALSO: Top 10 Fruit Glazed Chicken Recipes
How To Cook and Prepare Capon
With all of these in mind, how does one cook and prepare a capon? Basically, cooking this poultry product is not that different from cooking chicken. But because they are relatively larger than your average chicken, they take quite a lengthy amount of time to cook! Unfortunately, the best way to do that is by roasting them slowly and in low heat, adding more amount to that cooking time. But doing this will help give capon plenty of time to bring out its flavor and aroma. A flavor that’s worthy of every time and effort, if we dare say it.
For optimal results, per pound of capon should be cooked for 17 minutes. The heavier it weighs, the longer its cooking time would be. You’ll know when it’s done when the thermometer reads 165 degrees F at the thickest part of its thigh.
Other than that, you can cook this as you would turkey and chicken — using a turkey baster, a roasting pan, and an oven. But, you may also use your electric skillet if it’s capable of heavy-duty cooking.
Delicious Capon Recipes To Try at Home
Now that you know more about this luxury poultry item, how about trying out some recipes? Don’t fret, we’ve gathered three different roasting recipes for chicken that work well with capon too! There won’t be any difference in the cooking except for the capon taking longer to cook.
- Roasted Capon Chicken Recipe — Here’s a recipe for capon that takes on more classic ingredients for roasted poultries like turkey and chicken. This one is specially made for small gatherings or dinner parties, a definite choice for eight people.
- Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary — The strong lemon provides just the right amount of sourness and freshness for this recipe. Combined with Rosemary and cream cheese, not to mention capon’s tender and juicy meat, eating this will feel like you’re eating premium steak (the poultry version, at least)!
- Fruit Stuffed Chicken — This fruit-stuffed chicken is one good way to elevate your roasted capon a bit more! Fill your chicken with dried apricots, raisins, and other fruits. These, plus the buttery goodness from capon, we’re sure it will be a flavor bomb of all things good!
Where To Buy Capon
Capon was once famous. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case anymore. Since there’s not a lot of market for capons (after all, it’s not every day you treat yourself with something so expensive), getting hold of this elusive poultry product will be a daunting task. But you may be able to find some at your local supermarket.
If that doesn’t yield any luck, you can also try at a farmers market! Or, try asking a butcher if he can procure one for you. If push comes to shove, your last bet would be online meat suppliers near your area or surrounding states.
How To Store Capon Properly
No matter how you get it, make sure the meat is up to par and is fresh. And don’t forget to look for the “sell-by date” label on the packaging of the meat. Otherwise, you’d risk getting bad meat seeing as they’re rarely sold.
It is best to refrigerate capon overnight if you’re not planning on using it right away. And hours before it’s cooked, take it out and prepare it like any poultry.
In the refrigerator, it will last for about two to three days. But, you can also store it in the freezer for three to four months, although we highly suggest you consume it before then. By the time it reaches three months, it will have lost its flavor already.
Capon Is A Flavorful Chicken That You Can Use In Your Cooking
Now that you know capon is not a gaming rooster but actually a chicken you can roast, you’ll have more reasons to try it for special occasions or when you feel like being fancy. Despite that, we think your family will love it if you’ll have it once a month or two! Once a year if it’s pretty hard to get in your area!