Mexican style capon
PHOTOGRAPH BY GENTL AND HYERS

Mexican-Style Lime-Broth-Poached Capon

Bright, nourishing, and intensely delicious, this chicken soup is fit for the holidays.

November 6, 2015

Capons are roosters that are neutered at two weeks. Unlike their virile counterparts, they lead a languid lifestyle and grow tender and plump, making them ideal for a holiday dinner. In chef Mary Sue Milliken’s Yucatan-inspired recipe, capon is gently poached and then served in a citrusy broth, yielding silky, succulent meat. Some industrial capon producers use estrogen implants. For hormone-free fowl, seek out naturally raised birds from a purveyor like D’Artagnan, which raises them humanely.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Raising Backyard Chickens

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Serves 8–10

Vegetable oil, for frying
6 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
One 7–9-pound capon, giblets reserved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
6 bay leaves
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 strips (1 by 2 inches) of grapefruit zest
1 cinnamon stick
6 fingerling potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
3 chayotes, cut into 1 inch chunks
3 leeks, white parts only, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 ribs of celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
⅓ cup lime juice
3 plum tomatoes, cored and cut into ¾ inch pieces
3 red or green serrano chiles, stemmed and sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges
1 bunch (1–2 cups) cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, diced

1. Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a deep, 12 inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350 degrees. Add tortilla strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined baking sheet. 

2. Pat capon dry and season liberally, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour.  

3. Place capon, neck, stock, and enough water to cover bird in a large stockpot. Add oregano, bay leaves, garlic, zest, and cinnamon; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to gentle simmer; cook 1 hour.

4. Add capon heart and gizzard, the potatoes, chayotes, leeks, carrots, and celery; gently simmer 20 minutes. Add capon liver; simmer 10 minutes more. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes. 

5. Transfer capon, giblets, and vegetables to serving platter; cover with foil. Discard bay leaves, garlic, zest, and cinnamon. Bring broth to a boil, add lime juice and tomatoes, and season with salt.  

 

6. Carve capon at the table. Ladle broth into bowls; top with capon, giblets, and vegetables; and serve with tortilla strips, chiles, limes, cilantro, and avocado on the side for guests to add to their bowls.