Roast Capon with Fig-and-Pancetta Stuffing

Photo: Jonathan Lovekin
Prep Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs
8 Serves

Larger than a chicken but smaller than a turkey, a capon (which is a young male chicken) roasts up rich and tender, and is simply divine with the bold fig-pancetta stuffing in this recipe. You can find capons fresh or frozen at butcher shops and many supermarkets.


  • 1 capon (8 to 9 pounds), rinsed and patted dry, neck reserved

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 small onions, 1 finely chopped, 1 cut into 1-inch wedges

  • 6 ounces pancetta, cut into ½-inch dice

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

  • 6 ounces dried Black Mission figs, cut into a ¼-inch dice

  • 2 oranges, 1 zested and juiced, 1 cut into 1-inch wedges

  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves, plus 1 sage sprig

  • 11 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread, toasted

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour


  1. Let capon stand at room temperature 1 hour. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, pancetta, and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta begins to render fat and onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup broth and the figs to pan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes.

  2. Stir orange zest and juice, liqueur, and chopped sage into broth mixture. Tear bread into 1 1/2-inch pieces, and transfer to a large bowl. Pour broth mixture over bread, and stir until well combined. Fold in egg.

  3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place orange wedges in a single layer in the center of a roasting pan; add onion wedges, sage sprig, and capon neck. Stir together 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, and season body cavity of capon with half the mixture. Loosely pack body and neck cavities with stuffing. Place capon on top of orange mixture in pan. Rub remaining 2 tablespoons butter all over capon, and season with remaining salt-pepper mixture.

  4. Roast capon 45 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°, and roast, basting every 15 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh reads 165°, 55 to 65 minutes more, depending on size of capon. (If skin becomes deep golden brown before capon is fully cooked, loosely tent with foil.)

  5. Transfer capon to a platter, and tent with foil to keep warm. Let rest at least 15 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, shred neck meat, and set aside. Discard oranges, onions, and sage from roasting pan. Tilt pan, and remove excess fat with a spoon. Whisk together 1/4 cup broth and the flour.

  6. Place pan on 2 burners over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 1/4 cups broth, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, whisk in flour mixture and boil 1 minute. Pour gravy through a fine sieve into a bowl, stir neck meat into gravy, and serve alongside capon and stuffing. Stuffing (without egg) can be refrigerated, covered, up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before folding in egg and filling capon.

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