|Capon (Chicken) with Oranges. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach|
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.
-- Thomas Dawson, Good Housewife’s Jewel (1596).
Of course, you can't get capons in California these days, because the operation that creates them (emasculating a rooster) is illegal. Caponizing was a way of fattening up the extra roosters that weren't needed for the hens; capons tended to be bigger and fatter than hens, and it kept them from becoming as aggressive with other (un-caponized) roosters when kept with the rest of the flock.
|ingredients for Capon with Oranges. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.|
|Chicken boiling in the broth with the marrow. |
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach
2 pieces (3-inches long) of beef marrow bones
1 pint of low-sodium chicken broth
1 pint of water
4 bone-in chicken thighs
1 slice white bread (crumbs only)
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 whole oranges, peeled and sliced
4 sugar cubes
2 sprigs each fresh thyme and rosemary
1 tsp. each ground mace and nutmeg
4 whole cloves
1 stick of Ceylon cinnamon, broken
salt and pepper
|Oranges, herbs, spices, and wine in|
the broth. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
|Capon (Chicken) with Oranges. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.|
Despite the blandness of this variation of the dish, I still think it's a good one, and I hope to get my next attempt to have the punch of orange, spice, herb, and wine flavor that I think it should have.