Vegetarians never win on Thanksgiving and Christmas, so those of us who cook might as well "suck it up," as my brother Bill likes to say, and serve the meat -- in this case, poultry. This year it was capon, not turkey, and we kept our celebration small. A capon is a castrated rooster whose castration process sounds like a religious ceremony -- caponization. In any case, the bird is tender, and, I might add, rather expensive. The bird is considered less aggressive. This may be a consideration if you are faced with feeding bilious friends or family members who generally chow down on the kinds of meat that make you more aggressive or tense.
Capón, as I like to call him (with an accent egu over the o), was an 8-pounder, and the French relative of a famous American gangster -- and less aggressive, of course. I could see he also, like his fellow bird, the turkey, had innards that needed to be removed, and I cast them aside. I slathered Capón with maple syrup and tamari, a concoction that gave his crust a warm, toasty look, and a light, lovely taste -- I was told.
Along with the requisite fowl, we had stuffing, and I am proud of mine. It's hearty, lush and moist. As I am trying to keep cholesterol levels down in our household, after chopping up sweet onion, fresh celery, baby portobello mushrooms and apple bits, I sauteed them not in butter, but olive oil. Once the ingredients were made tender in the pan, I added a splash of tamari.
Into the big pot filled with an inch of water went the Pepperidge Farm stuffing. I stirred until the stuffing was slightly moist, then added my sauteed brew and stirred some more. I would have added golden raisins, but certain people with whom I reside don't like raisins in their stuffing, so, in order to please the masses, I withheld the raisins and gnoshed on them instead.
The two major sins one can commit with stuffing are making it dry and/or tossing everything into it but the kitchen sink. Please resist the temptation to do either.
As Capón reached the end of his cooking cycle -- about two and half hours -- I tossed some fresh stuffing from a box into the pan in which he was cooking and let the stuff simmer in juices for a while, then scooped out a couple of serving spoon's worth to add to the stuffing mix on the stove. Capón higher fat content makes him perfect for basting.
The stuffing was moist and to die for. Did I eat it? -- You bet. As for Capón himself, I'm afraid he is almost gone. I did not partake of him, although I did usurp his juices in the stuffing. Although I am a vegetarian, this Thanksgiving, and only in this way, I cheated.