In The Betrothed, Renzo Tramaglino comes to the renowned lawyer Azzeccagarbugli offering four live capons as a gift. The capon was considered a prestigious gift due to its prized meat, it was offered to people of rank to court favour and protection.
Bartolomeo Stefani says: “All capons are commendable, those from the countryside and those locked up in cages [...] but I value those in the fields more highly . Provided that they are well fed, they turn out more flavoursome and are more substantial than others, as experience has shown me on many occasions. Reasons for this could be that those capons from the countryside get tired, walking and flitting here and there, but both types are good and are some of the best meat that one can eat”. Even today the best capons are those left to roam freely, and those fed exclusively on a plant-based diet, with the exception of the last month, as they are fed a mixture of corn flour, bran and soy flour so as to enhance flavour. Capon is traditionally served around Christmas, and it should always be eaten if you are suffering from the flu: delicious capon stock seems to have healing properties.
“Making” capons was a requirement in the country due to the fact that having more than one rooster in the henhouse was considered a waste. The rooster’s flesh was hard and inedible because of its vigour and energy, which meant it did not gain weight.
Blancmange became famous at the historic banquet organised by Matilda of Canossa in 1077, which served to establish the truce between Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and Pope Gregory VII. The truce was short-lived, but the memory of Matilda’s blancmange lives on today.
INGREDIENTS FOR 4 PEOPLE • 300 GR almonds • 2 capon breasts • 6o GR rice flour • 1 LT milk • 1/2 LT almond milk • 50 GR lardo • sugar to taste
Take the capon breasts, cook them and finely slice them into strips. Pass the rice flour through a sieve and dilute it. Peel the almonds and crush them in a mortar with a little stock, then put them through a sieve. Place a non-stick pan on the heat and pour in the milk and almond milk. When it boils add the rice flour, making sure that no lumps form, and then the capon, chopped lardo and a pinch of sugar . Simmer over a low heat. Chop the remaining lardo into strips, and fry it. The dish should have the same consistency as rice. When serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar and add the fried lardo.