The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

I Spatchcocked a Rooster Eunuch

Warning: a chicken went through every indignity known to man in the making of this meal.

Indignity #1

I’m far from what you’d call an animal cruelty activist. Do a quick scan of my Recipe Index and you’ll see I have no problem eating animal flesh. But I am one of those who believe that you shouldn’t waste anything out of respect for the animal. I mean, the thing died to feed you, so you can at least eat the yummy stuff like it’s heart, kidneys, jowls, neck, tail, and other assorted nasty bits.

Speaking of bits, do you know what a capon is?

Capon 1

Food

I’ve heard the term many times before and I’ve seen them in some stores. I thought it was just a breed of really huge monster chickens. Turns out they aren’t a breed at all. Capons get really big because they were castrated, meaning their balls were either physically removed or chemically rendered useless.

(To be honest with you, I didn’t know they had nuts. Makes sense, if you think about it. But I never thought about it. What, you thought about it?)

Since the rooster no longer has “the little boys” to produce testosterone, they become docile and less active. They then sit around and just get fat. (And let’s face it – if someone took away my teabag, I probably would not want to leave the couch either.)

To aid the fattening, and perhaps to try to make amends with the poor fella, they feed him a really rich diet for about ten months. Most chickens you see in the market are less than six weeks old, so the capons get a little more time to live. The result is a huge bird – 8-10 pounds – that is tender, fattier, has more white meat, and is mild in flavor.

They aren’t cheap, though. The cost of the procedure, special diet, and longer life drives up the prices. I paid close to fifty bucks for a 7-8 pounder.

shopping

Indignity #2

I planned ahead and went through the effort of thawing and brining, but couldn’t get my act together to actually start roasting it. Since he was the size of a small turkey, it would have taken 2-3 hours to cook and I didn’t have that time.

So I spatchcocked him. And no, that doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with bestiality. Sicko. Spatchcocking is when you remove the backbone so that it can lay flat in the roasting pan. The term comes from “dispatching the cock,” and that’s all I’m going to say on that. You’re welcome.

This can be done with any type of bird, not just turkeys and chickens. It increases the surface area of the meat which results in significantly less cooking time. A spatchcocked turkey can be roasted in just a little over an hour; the capon only took about 45 minutes. The other benefit is that there’s more of that yummy roasted skin. Usually, the skin on the bottom side of the bottom side of the bird gets steamed and is soft and mushy. Having all the skin facing up exposes it to the dry heat, which is what allows it to get crispy.

Here’s how to do it.

– Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut along each side of the backbone to remove it.

Capon 2

Cooking

– The result should look like something out of “The Walking Dead.”

Capon 3

Cooking for AMC The Walking Dead Television show

– Flip it skin side up and press down firmly to flatten it. You’ll want to do it hard enough to hear the rib bones cracking. It’s really an unpleasant sound, but it does make you feel like Chuck Norris.

Capon 4

cooking techniques for poultry

Indignity #3

To prep it for roasting, I took an insane amount of butter and massaged it in with my hands.

Capon 5happy ending

That actually could be considered its own indignity – getting fondled by buttery hands – but I give a damn good massage. So this was a treat for him.

After some generous seasoning, the third indignity was that I roasted him at really high heat (425 degrees) for half an hour. Then I reduced the temperature down to 350 and roasted until a thermometer registered 155 degrees.

Capon 6

I was a little more than generous with the pepper.

Roasting

Indignity #4

After all the crap that the capon had gone through – the castration, the spatchcocking, the fondling – you’d think I’d have the decency to show it at its best. But I subjected him to one more indignity – I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. #FAIL.

But it tasted good – really tender and juicy. The roasting technique where you start with high heat and finish lower is Alton Brown’s method for turkey. The high heat seals in the juices for a really moist bird. I did it for Thanksgiving and it was one of the best turkeys I’ve ever made. As for the capon, it was really loaded with juices and I have to think that it’s due to the capon itself.

Was it worth the extra expense for the capon? I’m not sure it was. You certainly can get a few chickens or a turkey for less money. One of the things I like about free-range chickens and turkeys is that bigger, earthier, gamey flavor and firmer texture. But that’s my personal preference. If you like a lot of tender, moist white meat then you should definitely try a capon.

Without a doubt, spatchcocking it was a great way to go. It only takes a couple minutes of time to do it and saves a lot more in cooking time. I’m going to do this a lot more in the future.

Have you ever spatchcocked anything before? Or even just fondled someone with a lot of butter?

food

technique

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About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

25 comments on “I Spatchcocked a Rooster Eunuch

  1. talkavino
    March 13, 2013

    Great post : ) I believe some of the recipes specifically call for capon, the same way as famous coq au vin specially calls for a rooster and not just any chicken. And to answer your questions, no, I never spatchcocked anything, but I debone a lot of chicken : ) and yes, my chickens get a lot of fondling with the butter before they go into the oven…

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 13, 2013

      I was trying to find one that did call for capon… do you recall which?

      • talkavino
        March 13, 2013

        Looks like in Italian cooking Capon is used for special celebratory dishes due to its size and also the fact that it has more fat than the regular chicken so even breast meat doesn’t dry out. I found a few recipes by Mario Batali and then some recipes for poule au pot with Capon, but I’m not sure if those are authentic…

  2. JM Randolph
    March 13, 2013

    OMG, this totally made my morning. Especially the title, and the walking dead picture.

  3. Kim
    March 13, 2013

    This is way too intense for me! It sounds like the finished product was amazing, but I don’t think I have the courage to cut out a backbone and break ribs. I see nothing wrong with a buttery massage, though!

  4. the drunken cyclist
    March 13, 2013

    Whoa, you certainly did some violating there! Spatchcocking is a great term though, but I am not quite sure how to use it on a daily basis….

  5. a2sicilian
    March 13, 2013

    Great post. Spatchcocking and then grilling is also great. I like to marinate in olive oil, ground coriander seeds, and lemon juice, salt and pepper, and sprinkle the finish grilled product with chopped cilantro and coarse sea salt. $50 for a capon–that’s a lot. Chicken is one of the few inexpensive meats left, even the organic/free range.

  6. Yinzerella
    March 13, 2013

    I have deboned chickens before and cut up whole roasters into parts but not spatchcocked. The next time the chickens are .99/lb at the safeway I’m gonna have to try it.
    Breaking the ribs–so bad. Yet so good.

  7. seasonedwithsarcasm
    March 13, 2013

    I can honestly say I’ve never spatchcocked a bird…but this is good info to have at the back of my brain when I want a roasted chicken but don’t feel like giving it the full 2-3 hour roasting treatment. I have chickens…and a rooster…and am not gonna lie. The hubs and I were wondering where their junk was, because their stuff isn’t outside. Gotta love Google. Turns out, their boys are internal. So from the back, they look just like the hens. It’s weird. But you get used to it.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 13, 2013

      I think it’d be weirder if they were outside! Like those trucknuts I see on trailer hitches

      • seasonedwithsarcasm
        March 14, 2013

        hmmm….wonder if I can rig up something for the rooster that makes it looks like they are outside…..

        • thefoodandwinehedonist
          March 14, 2013

          I had heard that there are prosthetic nutsacks for dogs called neuticles. I wonder if there’s a market for roostercles?

          If ur successful, take a pic and ill use it as my profile pic for my Facebook page!!

        • seasonedwithsarcasm
          March 15, 2013

          haha for real? The people who invent this type of stuff either have WAAAAAY too much free time, or are just good at on the fly inventions. Remains to be seen. I’ll see what I can do about external rooster nads.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 13, 2013

      damn! I shoulda used “Junk” somewhere in there. well done

  8. Max D
    March 13, 2013

    Ah, a post right up my alley. I’ve been meaning to try capon for a long time, but the expense and the extra white meat won’t make me rush to the store.
    As for spatchcocking, I have to admit that I do it almost exclusively. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever roasted a turkey or chicken the “normal” way. First, I never ever tire of saying “spatchcock” in any of its forms, as a verb or adjective. Second, it’s really no different than cutting up chicken parts except that instead of cutting off wings, thighs, etc., you’re cutting out the spine. Third, I save the spine (I have about six in the freezer now) for stock. And fourth, as the FWH points out, it saves time. A lot of time. In the time it takes me to type this, I would’ve been able to spatchcock a chicken and put it in the oven. Once it’s in the oven, the bird cooks super fast. I’ve done whole turkeys in less than an hour. Another good trick is to cook the bird in a cast iron skillet that has been preheated in a 500 degree oven.
    But I’ve never given anything or anyone a butter massage. I do give my birds a pretty sexy olive oil, kosher salt and pepper massage. So I guess I’m also exfoliating it. Then I hide some garlic cloves in assorted cavities and crevices (is that an indignity?). Halfway through I may sprinkle some fresh thyme. Lemon at the end is good too.
    You didn’t ask, but a few good standby wines work very well here: village level Beaujolais, Provençal whites and reds, dry Riesling (Alsatian or German), a good Rioja, and yes, it’s time to start thinking about dry rosé wines.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 13, 2013

      Exfoliation! HAHA…. I like to go traditional with the wine and have Merlot with it. And yes to the rose – as a pairing and it being about htat time!

  9. AnnieR
    March 14, 2013

    I spatchcocked a 20lb turkey for Thanksgiving this year. It turned out really well and I’d do it again. Even if it’s just to tell my husband that I “spatchcocked the hell out of that bird” one more time.

  10. musingsoftheamusingmuse
    March 15, 2013

    You had me at “Spatchcock”. I’ve attempted a spatchcock once, but only got half-spatchcocked due to poor directions (over-written) – now I shall have to try it again. I raise chickens and have read about caponizing, but I couldn’t bring myself to every attempt it as you have to be show by someone who knows what they’re doing and the process itself is surgery without anesthesia. I know for myself, I couldn’t justify the price of a capon as I’d rather spend that $50 on some organic, free-range birds.

    Butter? A lady doesn’t discuss those things…

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  12. operab
    March 20, 2013

    http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2009/09/chicken_al_mattone
    This is my go to roast chicken basis. Your friendly neighborhood butcher can always take the backbone out if you don’t want to. Sometimes I do this because he can always save a little more meat than I can!

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This entry was posted on March 13, 2013 by in Cooking and tagged , , , , , , , .
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