Monday, June 11, 2012

Garlic and Capons...

Allium sativum, garlic, from William Woodville
Medical Botany, 1793
Source: Wikipedia
Garlic is good for you.  Not only does it keep vampires at bay, it helps regulate blood pressure, helps with allergies, it fights plaque in the arteries and is a natural wormer.  Good info to have just in case you ever accidentally eat a tapeworm.

This member of the onion family is also packed with vitamins including calcium.  You can also find zinc, Vitamin A, B12 (riboflavin) and Vitamin C in garlic.  Sounds like a winner to me considering it is also quite tasty in hummus, chicken and kale.

I've been reading up on garlic because I actually love the stuff.  It's obviously not expensive at the store but my thoughts turned to why buy it when I could easily grow it myself?  I knew that garlic had an unusual planting schedule so of course I checked it out to discover that the rumor was true.

Garlic is generally planted in October for harvest the following late spring/early summer.  This planting schedule is not an inconvenience at all because I already have cold frames in the works with plans for turnips, sugar snap peas and a few other things.  Garlic stores well so planting enough for use and storage for a year shouldn't be an issue either.

I get excited over some of the simplest things and now I'm excited about garlic.  *sigh*

I heard about Capons and knew it sounded familiar but I just couldn't place where I'd heard it before or exactly what it was.  It's probably because I'm not a farmer or a gourmet chef.  So... what is a Capon?

A Capon is a rooster that has been castrated or neutered, depending on how PC you want to be when you say it.

Don't worry, Zeus is safe because even though he's only 5 months old, he's now too old and heavy for the procedure.  I plan on getting a couple of Bar Rock pullets for him this fall to hopefully be able to naturally hatch some of these beautiful chickens for the market next year so I ruled him out for this from the beginning of my studies on it.

Zeus and Marsalla in the yard.
When John and I order our next round of meaties, I'm thinking about getting a few extra roosters to caponize this fall.  When a rooster is castrated, it doesn't crow, they become more docile, it can't breed and they say that a caponized rooster can actually become broody which means he will sit on and hatch eggs.  The meat from these roosters is unlike any other chicken meat out there.  Very tender and flavorful.

Capons are what we used to eat before the "invention" of the Cornish Cross.  Depending on how old you are, either your grandparents or great-grandparents caponized their roosters or had someone in their town that did it.  These roosters grew to a larger size because like the Cornish Cross, all they want to do is eat.  Without their balls, breeding doesn't even enter their minds.

The going rate for Capon right now is approximately $6.99 per pound.  Chicken balls currently go for $19.99 a pound.  I had no idea that chicken junk was worth that much or that people even ate it.  I did a quick search on the internet to see how you would even begin to cook something like that and found a few interesting dishes.

From Serious Eats I found a recipe that actually uses lamb balls but from the looks of it, I'm sure that chicken balls could work with it too.

From The Good Food Channel I found a recipe for "Breaded Testicles with Stewed Peppers and Onions."

And here's a page that will show you exactly what they look like, what the benefits are of eating them and a little more info about a chicken's junk.

If you know anything about chicken anatomy, I know exactly what you are thinking right now.  There's a procedure to doing this that has been done since the Romans started doing this back in 162 BC.  It is recommended that it be practiced on culled roosters before doing it to a live one so you know what you are doing and don't accidentally nick the artery that runs along the same area.

When we processed the meaties, I got a better look at the layout of the organs inside a rooster (we had 3 roosters in that group) and was actually quite surprised with the location of their "junk" compared to other organs and actually how big they were.  It took a minute for it to register in my brain what exactly I was looking at.

I'm going to actually keep the balls from the next round of meaties and try one of those recipes.  Why not?  It may be the best thing since sliced bread.  Then again, it may just taste like balls.  HA!

This will be interesting to say the least.  Any of Zeus' sons will be automatically turned into Capons as soon as I am able to tell if they are pullets or cockerels.

They say the larger breeds of birds make the best Capons so I'm thinking the Jersey Giant will be a good first choice for this since they reach a mature weight of 13 pounds under normal circumstances.  I could probably expect to have 15 pound Capons out of them by the time it was all said and done which will provide quite a large bird that I expect to be at least 10 pounds once they are completely dressed out.  Heck, that just might be large enough to replace the turkey for Christmas in 2013.

Once again, it's the old way of doing things.  I like the old ways better because they always seem to provide better results when it's all said and done.  It will take more time for these guys to grow but that's the way it is supposed to be anyway.  Slow and steady wins the race and makes for a tasty meatie and interesting new culinary adventures.

Happy Monday!



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