Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate tradition and family, brought together with delicious food. Eric Ripert, French chef, author and the host of Avec Eric, shares a spin on one of his grandmother’s traditional holiday dishes:
In my family growing up, Christmas was always a very special occasion when it came to food. We always started the meal with oysters and smoked salmon and foie gras. And we usually had turkey or capon for the main course. I preferred the capon and at the hands of my grandmother it was always something incredibly delicious and satisfying. She would stuff the capon with chestnuts. And then of course we’d end the meal with a traditional Buche de Noel cake. The recipe I’m sharing is inspired by my grandmother’s stuffed capon—but it has a bit of a luxurious twist — with black truffles added to the stuffing. To me the holidays are all about family and friends and being together at home around the table and this recipe is a really special way to celebrate that.
1 (6-pound) capon
1 cup fresh bread, cut into ½-inch cubes
1/3 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 ounce chopped chicken liver
½ pound mixed mushrooms, cleaned and diced
1 ounce black truffles, diced
1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons diced shallot
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ teaspoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon duck fat (you may substitute butter)
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
2 cups chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Rinse the capon and pat dry. Remove the wings and reserve.
Soak the bread in the milk. Squeeze out the excess milk from the bread and place in a large bowl. Add the eggs, chicken liver, mushrooms, truffles, garlic, shallot, parsley, thyme and duck fat. Season with salt and pepper. Season the cavity of the capon with salt and pepper and fill with the stuffing. Thread a trussing needle with a piece of kitchen string at least 18 inches long. Sew the opening in the capon closed using a crisscross pattern – enter the bird just above the breast and cross down to the opposite leg, pulling the string tight. Repeat with the other side of the bird. Finally, pierce the top of the breast and pass the needle through the bottom of the bird. The opening should be completely closed at this point. Tie the legs together. Season the bird on the outside with salt and pepper.
Place the wings in a roasting pan and place the capon on top of the wings. Roast for 90 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the leg is pierced and the stuffing reaches 150 degrees F. Remove the capon to a platter and let it rest at least 10 minutes
Place the roasting pan over high heat and add the chicken stock to deglaze the pan, stirring the browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, and then remove from the heat. Strain into a small pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, carve the capon and slice the breast meat and leg meat. Serve 2 slices of each and a spoon of the stuffing. Spoon the sauce over the plate and pass the extra sauce at the table. Serve immediately.
Special Equipment: Kitchen string and a trussing needle
Yield: Makes 6 servings