Smoked Roasted Capon Breasts with Sweet-Potato Fries
The smoky flavor of hickory or applewood enhances the marinated capon, and the roasted tomato sauce and vegetable garnishes add color and textural interest to the plate. Breasts from roasting chickens, which are far easier to locate than capon breasts, work equally well in this dish. The sauce may be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered. All remaining components of this dish should not be done more than four hours in advance.
- Capon Breast - 4, about 12 ounces each
- Red Wine Vinegar - 2/3 cup
- Olive Oil - 1/3 cup
- Thyme Sprigs - 2, fresh
- Cracked black pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
- Tomatoes - 6, peeled, seeded, and diced
- Garlic Cloves - 3, minced
- Sage - 1/2 tablespoon, minced
- Shallot - 1, minced
- Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Veal stock or Chicken stock - 6 tablespoons
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Hickory - 1 cup (alt. applewood chips)
- Bacon - 4 ounces (about 8 thin slices), cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
- Shallot - 1, minced
- Swiss Chard - 1 pound, coarsely chopped
- Veal Stock - 2 tablespoons (alt.chicken stock)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Sweet Potatoes - 1 pound
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Shiitake Mushrooms - 8 ounces, stemmed
- Thyme - 1 teaspoon, minced, fresh
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Sage - 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh
Place the first 6 ingredients in a shallow non-aluminum bowl and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
To make the sauce: Preheat the oven to 375 F. Combine the tomatoes, garlic, sage, shallot, and the oil in a heavy roasting pan and roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly charred. Puree in a blender or food processor with the stock. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
Light a fire in a charcoal grill and place the wood chips in water to cover for 20 minutes. When the coals are covered with light grey ash, spread them in the grill. Drain the wood chips and sprinkle them over the hot coals, then bank the fire to one side of the grill. Remove the capon breasts from the marinade and place them on the opposite side of the cooking rack from the coals. Partially close the grill, and smoke the capon for 20 minutes.
When the capon is almost done, place the bacon in a medium saute pan or skillet and cook over medium-high heat until the bacon is crisp. Add the remaining shallots and the chopped Swiss chard and saute for 1 minute. Add the veal stock, salt, and pepper, and cook until wilted. Set aside.
While the capon is smoking, cut the sweet potatoes in half, square off the sides, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut again lengthwise into fries. Transfer the potatoes to a saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 7 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
Bring the oven back to 375 F. In a small saute pan or skillet, melt the butter over high heat and quickly saute the shiitake mushrooms. Sprinkle with the thyme, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Set the mushrooms aside and keep them warm.
Transfer the capon breasts from the grill to a shallow roasting pan and place in the preheated oven to cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Place the oil in a medium saucepan to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 375 F, or until a cube of bread browns in 10 seconds. Fry the sweet potato fries until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Drain the fries on paper towels, season with salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm.
To serve: Add the remaining sage to the sauce and reheat if necessary. Spoon warm tomato sauce on warmed serving plates. Slice the capon breasts at an angle, and fan the slices out on the tomato sauce. Arrange the wilted Swiss chard, sweet-potato fries, and shiitake mushrooms around the capon.