Braised Capon with Pearl Onions
A capon is a large bird bred to have more white meat; it may have to be special-ordered from your butcher. A seven- to eight-pound roasting chicken can be substituted. This recipe was originally developed for a Passover dinner; butter and flour may be substituted for the matzo meal and margarine. Soak the pearl onions in warm water for 15 minutes to make peeling easier.
- 1 fresh capon (about 9 to 11 pounds), quartered
- 1 pound pearl onions
- 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup matzo meal
- 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted margarine
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 15 sprigs fresh thyme (about 1 bunch)
- 5 cups Homemade Chicken Stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
Cut breasts, thighs, drumsticks, and wing drumsticks of capon into 3-inch pieces, and trim away as much excess fat as possible (or have a butcher do this for you when you buy the capon). Reserve backbone and wing tips to make stock, if desired. Place onions in a bowl of warm water, and let stand 15 minutes to loosen their skins. Peel pearl onions, and set them aside.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season capon pieces with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Season matzo meal with remaining salt and pepper, and dredge the capon pieces in matzo meal, tapping off any excess.
Melt 2 tablespoons margarine in a large, wide, heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Arrange as many capon pieces as will fit in a single layer. Cook, turning to brown all sides well, about 10 to 15 minutes, adding remaining margarine as needed. As pieces brown, transfer them to a platter and add more pieces. When all pieces have been browned, pour off the accumulated fat. Add wine to the casserole, scrape up browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon, and boil for about 1 minute. Add the capon pieces and onions, and scatter the top with thyme sprigs. Add stock, bring to a boil, and cover. Place casserole in oven, and cook until tender, about 1 hour.
Remove casserole from oven. Lift out capon pieces and onions with a slotted spoon, transfer them to a large bowl, and set casserole aside to let liquid cool. Remove and discard thyme sprigs. When cool, cover casserole and the bowl with capon pieces, and refrigerate them overnight.
To serve, remove casserole from refrigerator, and scrape off solidified fat. Place over medium-high heat, and cook until liquid has reduced by about a quarter, skimming foam from the surface as necessary, about 20 minutes. Lower heat to medium low; return capon and onions to casserole, and cook, covered, about 15 minutes. Remove cover, raise heat to medium high, and cook until sauce has thickened and capon is heated through, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.