Photo: Gentyl + Hyers
In this Yucatan-inspired recipe, capon is gently poached, yielding silky, succulent meat, and then served in a lime broth. For hormone-free birds, seek out humanely raised capon from a purveyor like D’Artagnan, which does not use any growth stimulants.
Larger than a chicken, but smaller than a turkey, the capon is regarded for its broad breast and flavorful white meat. Capons are actually roosters that have been castrated at a young age and grow tender and plump, making them ideal for a holiday dinner.
Serves 8 to 10
Vegetable oil, for frying
6 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
One 7 to 9-pound capon, giblets reserved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
6 bay leaves
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 strips (1 x 2 inches) of grapefruit zest
1 cinnamon stick
6 fingerling potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
3 chayotes, cut into 1 inch chunks
3 leeks, white parts only, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 ribs of celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup lime juice
3 plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 red or green serrano chiles, stemmed and sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges
1 bunch (1 to 2 cups) cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, diced
Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a deep, 12 inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350 degrees F. Add tortilla strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined baking sheet.
Pat capon dry and season liberally, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour.
Place capon, neck, stock, and enough water to cover bird in a large stockpot. Add oregano, bay leaves, garlic, zest, and cinnamon; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to gentle simmer; cook 1 hour.
Add capon heart and gizzard, the potatoes, chayotes, leeks, carrots, and celery; gently simmer 20 minutes. Add capon liver; simmer 10 minutes more. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes.
Transfer capon, giblets, and vegetables to serving platter; cover with foil. Discard bay leaves, garlic, zest, and cinnamon. Bring broth to a boil, add lime juice and tomatoes, and season with salt.
Carve capon at the table. Ladle broth into bowls; top with capon, giblets, and vegetables; and serve with tortilla strips, chiles, limes, cilantro, and avocado on the side for guests to add to their bowls.