|the small chook|
An article I read on the Good Food page said the place to buy capon was in France. Well sure I'd love to but! So I had to make do with my small chicken from Woolies. Once again this recipe is from my History of Royal Food course. The original recipe can be found in the Good Housewife's Jewel (1596) by Thomas Dawson.
|my youthful helper|
I had a 14 year old helper with me, who was on school hols so had a bit of free time. As these recipes are a tad scant on details, Johnny, hubby and I went over the recipe trying to work out what we had to do. I think I just lucked into doing it right; well fairly right.
|look at those sunny oranges|
Basically, you poach your chook in stock; make an orange and red wine sauce, and serve the chicken in the sauce. The course notes say it is very simple, but when you are guessing how to do it...
1 large chicken - say from 1.8 to 2 kg
2 litres of good quality stock - I used chicken but the recipe says to use mutton and marrow bones, or lamb
300 mls of red or white wine - historically it would have been white
3 - 4 oranges, peeled and sliced thinly (the recipe suggests 6-8 for a large bird) - keep approx. 2 tbs of the peel for the sauce
6 tsp sugar (you may want to add more)
a handful each of thyme, parsley and rosemary shoved into a muslin spice bag
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 - 2 cloves
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs for the sauce (optional)
Place the bird into a large pan
Pour in the stock over the bird - don't worry if it doesn't cover it completely
Let it simmer for at least 45 minutes - make sure it is completely cooked through by sticking a thermometer into it to check it is at 60C, or by pulling a bit of flesh from the middle to check it is done
Put it aside while you make the sauce
Take several ladlesful (about 260mls) of the beautiful, aromatic stock and tip into a medium saucepan
Add the wine, the orange slices and peel, sugar, the herb bag and the spices
Reduce the spicy wine mixture at a fast boil for 20+ minutes
Remove the herb bag
If using the breadcrumbs to thicken the sauce, add them now
Pull the bird apart, and put the pieces into the sauce
Serve with spiced potatoes, or perhaps rice or cous cous
Turn the bird over once or twice during the poaching so that the whole bird gets well covered with stock. I basted it now and then too for extra moistness
Don't go wild with the orange peel; I added way too much at the start; it was bitter so I had to add more sugar. So just add the 2 tablespoons and check if you want to add more
|simmering the chicken in the stock|
|peel and slice the oranges|
|ladling out the stock ready to be reduced with the wine, oranges and spices|
|herby bag goes into the pan of stock,wine and oranges|
|sorry, a bit hacked due to checking for done-ness |
|stirring and reducing the sauce|
|reducing the sauce|
|the poached chicken going into the reduced sauce|
|serve with spiced potatoes|
|finally you get an orangey, spicy, winey chicken dish |
This flavoursome dish would have been enjoyed by the wealthy Elizabethans. Capons would not have been eaten by Ye Olde Local Peasants, and only the rich could afford oranges and spices.
Here is the original recipe for your perusal:
Thomas Dawson, Good Housewife’s Jewel (1596)
Take your capon and set him on the fire as before with marrow
bones and mutton, and when you have skimmed the pot well, put
thereto the value of a farthing loaf, and let it boil till it be half boiled. Then take two or three ladlesful of the same broth and put it into an earthen pot, with a pint of the same wine aforesaid. Peel six or eight oranges and slice them thin, and put them into the same broth with four pennyworth in sugar or more, and a handful of parsley, thyme and rosemary, together tied. Season it with whole mace, clove, and sticks of cinnamon, with two nutmegs beaten small. And so serve it.
You see what I mean? A wee bit difficult to decipher. But we had great fun making it and eating it.
|my orange doodle|