Italian Capon Christmas Recipe for New Year, Cappone Di Natale with Bra Sausage from Old World Italian

Italian Christmas recipe for New Year's table, Why Not?  Christmas Roast Capon with Chestnuts, Marsala, and Bra Sausage from Old World Italian 'Recipes and Secrets from Our Travels in Italy' (Clarkson Potter, September 2020) by Mimi Thorisson.

Cappone Di Natale Ripieno Con Salsiccia Di Bra

Christmas Roast Capon with Chestnuts, Marsala, and Bra Sausage

Italians like to eat fish during the holidays, but like in many other countries, Italian Christmas traditions often involve stuffed birds. This is the recipe I cooked last Christmas, with a Piemontese touch. A fatty bird stuffed with goodness, including chestnuts (one of my favorite foods), Marsala from Sicily that adds sweetness, and Bra sausages, famous for their flavor and quality and made from lean veal and a little bacon.

Serves 6

Old World Italian_ Capone di Natale_Page_1_Image_0001


Stuffed capon

1 whole capon

(4½ pounds / 2 kg), entirely deboned (ask your butcher to prepare)

2¼ pounds / 1 kg chestnuts, cooked and peeled

1 slice stale bread, crust removed, torn into pieces

⅓ cup / 80 ml whole milk

10 ounces / 300 g ground pork

½ pound / 230 g bra (veal) sausage, casings removed

2 large eggs

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 100 g grated parmesan cheese

⅓ cup / 80 ml dry marsala wine

12 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces / 140 g pancetta, sliced (about 20 pieces), or thinly sliced bacon

extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons / 30 g unsalted butter, at room temperature gravy

⅔ cup / 160 ml white wine

3 tablespoons / 45 g unsalted butter

1 tablespoon cornstarch, sifted

fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 Prepare the stuffed capon: Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.

2 Clean the capon and pat dry.

3 Place half of the chestnuts in a bowl, mash them with a fork, and set aside.

4 In a small bowl, combine the bread and the milk and soak until softened. Squeeze out the excess milk.

5 In a large bowl, combine the ground pork, sausage meat, and soaked bread. Add the eggs, Parmesan, Marsala, sage, mashed chestnuts, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

6 Lay the capon skin side down on a work surface and spread the filling over the flesh, then roll up, starting from a long side. Wrap the top part of the rolled capon horizontally with the pancetta. Tie the roast in several places with kitchen twine. In a roasting pan large enough to hold the bird, drizzle a little olive oil. Place the rolled bird in the center of the roasting pan and drizzle with more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Dot the bird with the butter.

7 Transfer to the oven and roast, basting the bird regularly, until cooked through, about 2 hours. About 15 minutes before the end of cooking, add the remaining chestnuts to the roasting pan. Transfer the bird to a cutting board and the chestnuts to a bowl, cover the bird with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.

8 Meanwhile, make the gravy: Place the roasting pan over medium heat. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring constantly. Scrape up all of the browned bits and bring to a boil. Add 3 tablespoons butter. When the butter is melted, add the sifted cornstarch and whisk it into the sauce. Cook until glossy and thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

9 Carve the capon into slices ¾ inch / 2 cm thick and serve with the gravy and chestnuts on the side.

Note: Instead of capon, you can also make this recipe with a chicken or a turkey, adjusting the stuffing amounts and cooking time. For the Bra sausage, you can use an herbed pork sausage

(*Recipe reproduced with permission from Old World Italian 'Recipes and Secrets from Our Travels in Italy' -Clarkson Potter, September 2020- by Mimi Thorisson. Photograph by Oddur Thorisson)

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