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Capon Salad

Nancy Harmon Jenkins thinks of this as Sara Jenkins' riff on a recipe from her great-grandmother's time. It's best with capon, but high-quality free-range chickens or time-saving freshly roasted store-bought chickens are an acceptable substitute.

  • Servings: 6

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  • 5 quarts cold water
  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 large carrot, halved crosswise
  • 1 celery rib, halved crosswise
  • 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 medium red onion, halved
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • One 8-pound capon or 2 halved 4-pound free-range chickens
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked in sweet wine, such as Vin Santo, and drained
  • 1/4 cup snipped chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • 1/3 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, preferably from Tuscany
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. In a stockpot, combine the water, wine, garlic, carrot, celery, parsley, onion and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low, add the capon, breast side up, and return to a gentle boil. Simmer the capon until just cooked through but still moist, about 45 minutes. Carefully remove the capon from the pot and let cool slightly, then refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Strain the broth and store it in the refrigerator or freezer for another use.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the pine nuts in a small baking dish and bake for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, or until lightly toasted. Let cool. Using your fingers, pull the capon meat into 2-inch pieces; discard the skin and bones. In a large bowl, toss the shredded capon with the pine nuts, scallions, raisins, chives and tarragon. Add the olive oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and toss the ingredients to combine. Mound the capon salad on plates and serve.

Make Ahead

The capon can be cooked up to 2 days in advance.

Suggested Pairing

An Italian Pinot Noir is the obvious choice for this rustic salad topped off with an assertive olive oil.

Contributed By Photo © Quentin Bacon Published October 2000

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494080 2013-12-06 Sara Jenkins dinner-party|italian|salads|6|make-ahead october-2000,main course salad recipes,capon-salad 494080