You may have wondered what a breast of capon is while dining at a fancy restaurant or at dinner parties with friends. In short, it is the breast meat of a capon, which is a castrated rooster that has been raised for meat. Capons are well-fed for about 16 weeks until they reach 8 to 10 lbs. They are prepared and sold at market when they are 18 to 20 weeks old.
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History of the Capon
Castrating roosters for meat and eating them is generally thought to have originated in the days of the Roman Empire, though others believe it was done earlier in China. It further gained popularity in the Middle Ages in Europe when eating capons was actually more popular than eating hens and was the predominate source of meat at the time.
What is the benefit of castrating (surgically or chemically) a rooster? There is a doubled meat load on the animal and it makes the meat more tender. How does a breast of capon compare to a normal chicken's breast? Some food experts claim that capon meat is juicier and more tender, but others claim they have been unable to detect a difference.
Capon meat clocks in at 65 calories per ounce, or 520 calories per 8 oz. serving. It is a good source of iron and protein and when eaten with the skin, has close to equal parts fat to protein, though the breast meat is a bit leaner. Since capon is considered a delicacy, it is generally served with its skin on and often eaten with additional rich sauces which can add to its fat and calories.
Preparations for Capons
Capon breast can be eaten and cooked in many different ways and similar to regular chicken breast meat, it is versatile and adaptable. Since many think it has a superior taste, capons are often served plain in a salad, or grilled to enhance the taste. Alternately, a classic way of serving capon is with a gravy from pan drippings, which makes for a succulent and satisfying meal.