The next time you’re thinking of making turkey for a small group, give some consideration to serving a tender, juicy roasted capon instead.

Whole roasted capon on a large oval platter, ready to be carved.

Larger than a roasting chicken, but smaller than a turkey, capons are tender, juicy, and easy to prepare and carve.

What Is a Capon?

A capon is a rooster that’s been surgically castrated (caponization) at a young age, causing a hormonal change in the bird that improves the quality of its meat. Raised to a weight between 6 and 12 pounds, capons are broad-breasted and juicy with a tender texture and rich flavor that really sets them apart from chicken and turkey.

Look for an all-natural, free-range bird that’s been humanely raised and fed a vegetarian diet without any added hormones, antibiotics, or growth stimulants. If you can’t find a capon locally, we recommend shopping with D’Artagnan. They sell fresh capons during the holidays and frozen capons (in limited quantity) after the season has passed.

How To Make a Roasted Capon

This is an overview of how this dish is made. You’ll find detailed measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable version of the recipe below.

  1. Bring the capon to room temperature before roasting.
  2. Season the cavity and stuff it with aromatics (onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and parsley).
  3. Truss the capon with kitchen twine.
  4. Rub the skin with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  5. Place the capon on a rack in a roasting pan and add a 1/2-inch of liquid to the bottom.
  6. Start roasting the capon at high heat (450°F), then lower the temperature (350°F) and continue roasting, basting every 15 minutes with the pan juices.
  7. Let rest before carving.

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Perfectly-browned roastrf capon on a serving platter garnished with raw kale.

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Roast Capon

Roast Capon

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Larger than a roasting chicken, but smaller than a turkey, a capon is the perfect choice for a small holiday gathering or dinner party.

Ingredients

  • 1 capon, 6 to 8 lbs
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, peeled
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 stalk celery with leafy top
  • 4 to 5 sprigs parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cheesecloth and kitchen twine

Instructions

  • Remove the capon from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking. Preheat the oven to 450°F and coat a roasting pan and rack with nonstick spray.
  • Cut the onion into 2 wedges and chop the carrot and celery into 3 or 4 pieces each. Place them in the center of a square of cheesecloth, add the parsley and garlic and gather up the edges to make a bag. Secure with kitchen twine.
  • Season the cavity of the capon with salt and pepper, then place the bag of aromatics inside.
  • Truss the capon by looping a length of twine under the tailbone and around the ends of the legs, cinching in the center to bring them together in front of the cavity. Fold the wing tips under and position the capon on the roasting rack.
  • Drizzle the capon with olive oil and use your hands to rub it in, being sure to get in between the legs and the body. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Add the wine to the roasting pan along with enough water to bring the depth to about 1/2 inch.
  • Roast the capon for 30 minutes at 450°F, then lower the temperature to 350°F. Baste the capon with the pan juices and return to the oven.
  • Continue roasting, basting every 15 minutes, until an instant read thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F. Total roasting time (including the 30 minutes at 450°F) for a 7 lb capon should be about 2 hours (17 minutes per pound).
  • Allow the capon to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Tips for Making This Recipe

If you’d like, you can make gravy with the pan juices while the capon rests, but truthfully, the meat is so moist and tender you really don’t need it. Once the bird has been carved, you can simply spoon some of the pan juices over the serving platter if desired.
Calories: 380kcal, Protein: 40g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g, Cholesterol: 130mg, Sodium: 124mg, Sugar: 1g
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