CAPON STUFFED WITH PEARS
Capon - A capon is a young rooster that has been castrated and then fattened on a special diet that makes it especially flavorsome, with a high proportion of white meat. The production of capons is banned in a number of countries including the UK, and Australia (where it is illegal to castrate the birds using chemicals). A large chicken or small turkey may be substituted in traditional recipes for capon.
• 2 slices of bread, crusts removed
• scant 1/2 cup milk
• 1 capon, chicken, or turkey, with giblets, 7-8 lbs
• 10 pears
• 11 ounces bulk sausage
• generous 1/2 cup diced bacon
• pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 egg
• 1 egg yolk
• scant 1 cup chopped pistachio nuts
• 3 tablespoons pine nuts
• 1 stalk celery, chopped
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2 tablespoons green peppercorns
• generous 1/2 cup lard or goose fat or 5 tablespoons sunflower oil
• 1 bottle (3 cups) red wine
• 1½ tablespoons honey
• salt and pepper
Put the bread in a bowl, pour in the milk and let soak for 10 minutes then drain.
Preheat the oven to 475°F.
Season the inside of the bird with salt and pepper.
Chop the liver and heart. Slit the gizzard remove and discard the gravel sac then chop. Put the chopped giblets in a bowl.
Peel, core, and chop two of the pears and add to the bowl along with the bulk sausage, bacon, nutmeg, egg, egg yolk, pistachio nuts, pine nuts, celery, onion, half the peppercorns, and the soaked bread. Mix well, then stuff the bird with this mixture.
Close the cavities with trussing thread. Spread the lard or fat over the bird or brush it with the oil and put into a roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350°F, and roast, basting frequently for 2 hours more. Check that it is done by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with the tip of a sharp knife, if the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink, the chicken is cooked.
Meanwhile, peel and core the remaining pears, put them into a pan and add the wine, the remaining peppercorns, and the honey. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat, and let cool.
Remove the bird from the roasting pan and cover with aluminum foil. Skim off the fat from the cooking juices and add scant 1 cup of the cooking liquid from the pears. Cook over medium heat until reduced by half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Carve the bird and scoop out the stuffing and place on a warm serving dish.
Halve the pears, place a little stuffing in the cavities, and put on the dish.
Serve immediately, offering the sauce separately.