Cook capon in the oven the French traditional way at Christmas, with winter vegetables and chestnuts. I give you cooking tips for very tender meat.
Capon for a traditional French style Christmas May it be for X’mas or Thanksgiving
French traditional Christmas dinner may vary from one family or one region to the other but there are some very classic dishes that you will often find on Christmas table in France. I wrote a full article on this that you might want to discover here.
Anyway capon and turkey are the two main poultry the French love to serve on this occasion.
Capon is generally not as big as turkey, for 6 to 10 people, thus perfect for a family with a few relatives. I often have a 3 kilos capon when I just have my parents + the 5 of us, or two capons that fit well in one larger dish in the oven when we have a larger gathering. These photos were taken at the family Christmas dinner last year, thus no food styling, pictures quickly. They all loved it.
Which vegetables to serve as a side with capon for Christmas
The most classic capon recipe might be with chestnuts and stuffing. I wanted a lighter version thus with no stuffing and with seasonal winter vegetables along with chestnuts. In France chestnuts can be found in jars, peeled and steamed, thus Ready-to-eat which is very convenient and what most people use.
I choose onions, carrots, turnips, onion squash. Feel free to adapt according to the vegetables you like or are in season in your country.
How to perfectly cook capon with tender meat
Average capons in France are of 2.5 to 3.5 kilos, you should count 400 gr per person. A capon is therefore ideal for 6 to 10 people.
You must remove the capon from the refrigerator 1 hour in advance.
The cooking time is 1 hour per kilo of poultry, 1h10 when the capon is stuffed. Start cooking in a warm oven, but not too hot: 160°C / 320°F, and cover the poultry with aluminum foil to avoid thermal shock. This way meat will not dry and you won’t have to baste regularly capon. 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the aluminum foil, baste capon with the cooking juices, the skin will brown well and become crispy. This gentle cooking method in a not too hot oven makes the flesh very tender.
When the meat is cooked, it is important to allow the meat to rest for about 30 minutes, either covered with aluminium foil, either covered with 2 tea towels or in the oven with heat reduced to 50°C/120°F to 60°C/140°F in order to keep warm. This will allow the juices in the meat to spread evenly throughout the flesh and prevent this juice from flowing out when you cut capon.
Roasted Capon with Chestnuts and Winter Vegetables
- 1 capon 3.2 kilos
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or neutral oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin or any spices paprika, curry, 4 spices ...
- salt and pepper
- 400 gr chestnuts Ready-to-eat (peeled & teamed) in jar
- 1 onion squash orother squash
- 2 turnips
- 1 sweet potato
- 3 carrots
- 2 onions
- Take the capon out of the refrigerator 1 hour in advance.
- Preheat the oven to 160 °C/320°F.
- In a bowl, combine olive oil, salt, pepper and the spice you choose, here cumin. Spread this preparation on the capon, don’t hesitate to make kind of a massage to the poultry.
Roast in the oven
- Place the capon in an ovenproof dish and pour water all around. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 160°C/320°F for 3h30 (of 1 hour per kilo depending on the weight).
- Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Rinse them, peel and seed the ones that need to be. Cut them into large sections of more or less the same size.
- After 2:30 hours, take the capon out of the oven, arrange the vegetables all around, season with salt and pepper. Baste vegetables and capon with the cooking juices, eventually add a bit of water if there is a little juice. Place back in the oven, covered, for the remaining time.
- 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the aluminum foil, baste vegetables and poultry again with the cooking juice and place back in the oven. Water as often as possible.
Rest before serving
- Finally, take the capon out of the oven, cover again with aluminum foil, either covered with 2 tea towels or in the oven reduced to 50°C/120°F to 60°C/140°F.. Let the meat rest for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
Bon appétit !