Capon with Wild Mushrooms and Mint Béarnaise

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If you cannot find a capon, any large chicken, even a roasting chicken, will do for this recipe. The main thing is not to use a little, -pound chicken that will cook so quickly that the broth will get no flavor from the meat and the meat no flavor from the vegetable broth. The same recipe could be used for game birds, and the size and age of any of the birds will determine the cooking time. To get the best results, cook the chicken with carrots, onions, celery, and turnip peelings, remove them, and then add the vegetables that you want to accompany the chicken. Use stock in the first cooking instead of water, and you will get even richer results, ending up with the best soup or consommé you ever tasted.

Ingredients

  • 1 five-pound capon, boiling fowl, or roasting chicken
  • 6 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces, parboiled 10 minutes
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped mirepoix
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 2 large turnips, peeled but peelings reserved, quartered
  • 2 quarts water or stock
  • salt
  • 24 small carrots, peeled
  • 24 small white onions, peeled
  • 6 fresh chanterelles or other wild mushrooms
  • 8 small new potatoes
  • 6 leeks, trimmed, rinsed thoroughly
  • 4 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 fresh marrow bones, each 3 inches long
  • 1 cup mint béarnaise

Method

Put the chicken in a pot just large enough to hold it and the vegetables. Add the bacon, mirepoix, bouquet garni, and half the turnip peelings. Add water or stock to cover and add salt. Bring to a boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Turn down the heat and barely simmer for 1 hour or more, depending on the kind of chicken you are using. The way to test for doneness is to roll the chicken over on its side, pierce the thigh with a skewer, and check the color of the juices that come out. If they are rose-colored, cook some more until the juices from the thickest part of the thigh run clear.

When the chicken is almost done, add the vegetables. Cook for 15 minutes. Add the herb sprigs and marrow bones; cook another 8 minutes. Lift the chicken onto a warm platter and put all the vegetables and marrow bones around it. Pour some of the boiling broth over the chicken and carve. Serve 2 cups of the remaining broth and the mint béarnaise separately. Save the additional broth for another use.

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