I’d never cooked capon before using this recipe (Barefoot Contessa at Home, p. 102), and I figured it couldn’t be all that different from a roast chicken. After all, a capon is merely a rooster which is… no longer a rooster. A gender-confused (or relieved-of-gender) bird. The capons are the castrati of the poultry world, so to speak. I purchased the last capon available at the grocery store, ignoring the fact that it was frozen solid. The packaging was slightly misleading in its promise that this bird was “ready to cook.” I thawed it overnight in the refrigerator, and when it was still partially frozen the next day, I continued to thaw it in a large bowl of cold water, changing the water frequently. When I was satisfied that the bird was sufficiently thawed, I set upon the task of removing the bag of innards from the body cavity. Really, why is this nasty little bag necessary, poultry people? I know there are some people who like gizzards, and God bless them, but why do the rest of us have to suffer through extracting a bag of them from the body cavity of the poultry we’re about to cook? Can’t they be sold separately? Or packaged outside the bird? Why? WHY?! (This process always reminds me of a Butterball commercial from a few years back, in which a woman was on the telephone with the poultry hotline, raw turkey in hand, saying, “You want me to put my who-who in the what-what?!”)
Apparently the capon wasn’t quite as thawed as it should have been, because it took an extra hour of roasting to get the breast meat to 165 degrees, the temperature recommended by the USDA for poultry. Of course, the sufficiently-thawed parts became overcooked in the process, and by the time the whole thing was done, I was afraid we’d encounter something like this scene from National Lampoons’ Christmas Vacation:
Alas, the capon was edible, if a little dry. Next time, I will thaw the whole damn thing before roasting it. Or, I’ll just make two smaller chickens instead.