Truffled Capon Roasted on a Spit

The dish made famous by the greatest and most modest of masters, Alexandre Dumaine of the Côte d’Or in Saulieu, was one that people like the Aga Khan, Orson Welles, and Grace Kelly would travel far to enjoy, defining the Michelin term “worth the journey.” Dumaine’s dish was a whole capon, or sometimes a poularde, but always “a chicken which has been reared and fed in an exemplary manner for most of its life, then confined and fattened for the table.” Dumaine stuffed his bird with whole fresh black truffles, stuffed some under the skin as well, then encased and sealed the chicken in a pig’s bladder for poaching in aromatic broth. The chicken was then brought to the table in the bladder and opened in front of the rapturous guests, releasing a cloud of rich chicken and truffle vapors. In France, you can still order this spectacular dish at the restaurants of Paul Bocuse near Lyon, or Georges Blanc in Vonnas.

This recipe, which Ken Hom recently cooked for me in Catus, France, is a bit easier, especially since I don’t know where to get that bladder. You will need a grill with a spit and a cover, like a Weber. Or cook the capon in the oven as for a roast chicken, although it may take an extra thirty minutes to cook.

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Ingredients

  • 1 6-pound fresh capon with liver
  • 2 whole lemons
  • 2–3 cups 2-day-old country-style bread, crusts removed, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 lobe duck foie gras, cleaned and denerved then cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 4-ounce fresh black truffle, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • ¼ cup fresh lovage leaves (or the leaves of the heart of celery), chopped
  • Sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Method

Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice inside and all over the capon and season its cavity.

Put the bread, foie gras, truffles, and whole lovage leaves in a bowl and mix them all together. Season and put the stuffing in the cavity of the capon. Sew up the cavity opening, and let the chicken develop the flavors of the stuffing for 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Start a real charcoal or wood fire. When it is ready, put the capon on the spit over the fire and lower the cover of the grill.

Cook for 1½ hours, or until the juices from the thigh of the capon run clear. Let the capon sit 30 minutes in a warm place before serving.

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