Baronial 12th Night - Capon Farced – chicken stuffed with a mixture of sausage, onions and grapes, roasted Harl. MS 279, 1430 and How to Spatchcock Chickens

Spatchcocked roast chicken served with "farce" balls and giussel along with pickled blueberries (pickled barberries)

I had originally planned to serve the chickens stuffed with the farce. The time to cook the chickens was problematic, and the last time I served chickens stuffed with a meat stuffing, the stuffing tinted the meat closest to it a light pink and despite the fact that the chickens were *falling apart* the diner's complained that because of the tint (I used veal and pork in the stuffing) the meat was not cooked. Not wanting a repeat of that experience I elected instead to spatchcock (butterfly) the chickens which would cook them evenly, and halve the cooking time. I also elected to turn the stuffing into "sausage balls" that was served as a side to the chickens.

How to Spatchcock (butterfly) Chickens

Word of advice--buy a cheap pair of kitchen shears if you are going to be doing this to a large number (16) of chickens. My shears needed to be resharpened when I had completed this process. I found it easier to remove the backbone from the chicken while they were still semi frozen, then when they were thawed. I would not attempt this while frozen.

The tailbone of the chicken is also referred to as the parson's nose, and now I can't stop referring to it as that. Turn the chicken so that it is breast side down. Using your shears cut the chicken along each side of the parson's nose which removes the backbone from the bird.

Turn the chicken back over onto its breast and put the frustration of trying to cut through some of the thicker bones into flattening it by placing your hands into the middle of the bird and pushing down until she gives up fighting and lies down complacently flat for you. Ignore any odd noises you might hear.

You can also take the extra step of cutting out the breast bone, but I didn't do this. I think that chicken cooked on the bone is more flavorful and moister then chicken not on the bone.

Original Recipe: XXXV. Capoun or gos farced. — Take Percely, & Swynys grece, or Sewet of a schepe, & parboyle hem to-gederys til J^ey ben tendyr; J^an take harde plkys of Eyroun, & choppe for-w/tA ; caste ])er-to Pouder Pepir, Gyngere, Canel, Safroun, & Salt, & grapis in tyme of jere, & clowys y-nowe ; & for defawte of grapis, Oynons, fyrst wil y-boylid, & afterward alle to-choppyd, & so stufFe hym & roste hym, & serue hym forth. And jif ]70 lust, take a litil Porke y-sode, & al to-choppe hit smal a-mong )7«to|ier ; for it wol be J^e better, & namely ^ for ]>e Capoun.

Translated: 35. Capon or Goose stuffed. Take parsley & swines grease, or suet of a sheep, and parboil them together till they are tender; then take hard yolks of eggs, and chop forthwith; cast thereto powdered pepper, ginger, cinnamon, saffron & salt & grapes in time of year, and cloves enough; & for default of grapes, onions, first well boiled & afterward all chopped, & so stuff him & roast him, & serve him forth. And if thee like, take a little pork seethed, & all chop it small among that other; for it will be the better, & especially for the capon.

Capon Farced – chicken stuffed with a mixture of sausage, onions and grapes, roasted Harl. MS 279, 1430

For the chicken

1 chicken
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. pepper

For the stuffing

2 small onions minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
¼ cup water
½ cup chicken broth
2 tbs. bacon fat, lard or suet
1 pound mild spice sausage (I used sage)
1 hardboiled egg
1/2 cup seedless grapes
½ tsp. cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp. cloves

To Roast Chicken

Pat your chicken dry and lightly coat it with butter or oil. I prefer European butter because it results in a crispier skin. Mix together salt, ginger and pepper, and sprinkle over the chicken, being sure to coat inside and outside of your bird. If you are stuffing your bird, add the stuffing, and cook your chicken at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half.

If you are serving the sausage as meatballs on the side, and have spatchcocked your chicken, cook your chicken at 400 degrees until the chicken is browned (about 45 minutes) and has an internal temperature of 165 degree's measured in the thickest part of the thigh.

For the stuffing balls:

Put parsley, water, broth, fat and onions in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook for five minutes. Remove the pot from heat, drain and allow to cool. Meanwhile, finely chop the hardboiled eggs and grapes. Add onions, grapes, parsley, cloves, cinnamon, salt and pepper to the sausage and form into balls. I use a tablespoon to shape the sausage balls.

To cook your stuffing, bring a pot of water to boil, and place the balls into it. They will float when they are done. Drain. At this point you can freeze them (they freeze well) or serve them.