Capon is like chicken's richer cousin. It's tender, flavorful and—most importantly—much more forgiving to cook than turkey.
Plus: Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide
1 pound whole-grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (13 cups)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 large celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3/4 teaspoon ground fennel seeds or fennel pollen
1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1 cup plump dried figs such as Calimyrna, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 large eggs
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
One 10-pound capon with neck
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Calvados or applejack
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the bread on 2 large baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes, until dry.
In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and cook over low heat until softened, 10 minutes. Stir in the ground fennel and prosciutto and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a very large bowl, toss the bread with the prosciutto mixture and figs. In a bowl, beat the eggs, stock, salt and pepper; pour the mixture over the bread and stir to thoroughly combine the ingredients.
Lower the oven temperature to 325°. Cut the tips off the wings and place in a large roasting pan with the neck. Put the capon in the pan, breast side down and fill the neck cavity with stuffing. Pull the skin over the stuffing and secure with a skewer. Turn the capon breast side up and fill the cavity with stuffing. Wrap any leftover stuffing in foil. Rub the butter over the capon; season with salt and pepper.
Roast the capon for 1 1/2 hours, rotating the pan once. Transfer the neck and wing tips to a saucepan. Roast for about 1 hour longer, rotating the pan once. The bird is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thigh registers 165°.
Meanwhile, add the stock to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt, cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Discard the neck and wing tips.
Remove the capon from the oven. Raise the oven temperature to 400° and cook the stuffing in the foil packet for 20 minutes.
With a large spoon, scoop the stuffing from both cavities into an ovenproof bowl; cover with foil and keep warm. Tilt the capon to release any juices into the roasting pan. Transfer the capon to a carving board and let rest for up to 20 minutes.
Pour the pan juices into a glass measuring cup and skim off the fat. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the fat into the roasting pan; discard the remaining fat. Set the pan over 2 burners on moderate heat and stir in the flour. Gradually whisk in the stock and the Calvados until smooth. Bring to a boil, whisking, then simmer the gravy over low heat, whisking often, until no floury taste remains, about 8 minutes. Pour in the reserved pan juices and simmer for a few minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and pour into a gravy boat.
Carve the capon and serve with the stuffing and gravy.
Earthy, berry-inflected Pinot Noir.
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