Maybe it will sit on your table today? The capon is the king of Christmas meals. For 50 years, the De Pierpont family in Castelnau de Montmiral has been rearing, according to tradition, this festive poultry.
A capon? Everyone knows. But how does a chicken become a capon? An expert’s words: “The capon is a male chicken that is castrated before it reaches 9 weeks and then fattened. For the last 2 weeks of its existence, the capon remains confined to perfecting its fullness, with an ideal weight of around 5 kilos. It is slaughtered between 150 and 180 days”, replies Franck de Pierpont without hesitation.
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When it comes to capon and other poultry on the farm, this man is the reference. In 1972, his parents Christian and Annie set up their poultry farm in Castelnau-de-Montmiral. Son Franck will do his schooling in this field in Gers, then higher education in Brittany. In 1993, to meet the strong growth in activity, he joined the company. Landbrugsjordgruppen (GFA) De Pierpont has just been born.
“Our capons are happy”
A few years later, Franck became the manager: “We specialize in the production and marketing of poultry started in Occitanie. These are poultry that are mainly fed on grains (75%), which do not receive feed of animal origin or preventive antibiotic treatment. .
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As for the capon, its breeding is subject to special care: low density per m2, quality food, natural light. This is the guarantee of tender and fine meat”, explains Franck de Pierpont, inexhaustible on the subject. He insists on one point in particular: “Our chickens and our capons are happy! At night they have access to perches, they are not numerous and therefore they grow without stress. During the day, they have free access to the meadow”.
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This year sales were excellent despite a 15% price increase. “Raw material costs have increased by 30%,” he laments. Diesel, corn, electricity: Prices are sky high at the moment. “But what worries me the most is bird flu. In Tarn, professionals and the administration have taken the right measures in time to prevent the spread. I fear that the genetic heritage of poultry originating in the Pays de Loire will be affected”.
Its recipe remains secret
For this reason, the breeder participates in a working group with the Ministry of Agriculture’s veterinary services. For the time being, Franck de Pierpont makes the status. “Sales of capons, like turkeys and other chickens, are actually 98% in December for the Christmas holidays”.
Faced with the success of this poultry with consumers, Franck has developed a partnership with around forty breeders, mainly from Tarn, to better meet demand. “They apply strict specifications and I deliver the food”. He keeps the recipe a secret. “Same as my parents’,” he said, smiling.
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“I get corn from farms in the Tarn valley, from Saint-Sulpice to Nègrepelisse”, he agrees to reveal. So short circuit. Short circuit: a term that sounds obvious to this breeder who is fundamentally tied to his land.
In the kitchen
Legs of capon from Depierpont stuffed by chef Bourdariès from Vigne en Foule in Gaillac. For 2 people.
1 bone capon (700 grams). 2 shallots. 150 g white mushrooms. 20 g of butter. 30 g death trumpets. Parsley. 1 clove of garlic. 1 egg. Capon or poultry liver. 100 g whites. 10 cl of cream. 30 g smoked brisket.
Bone thigh. Make the mushroom duxelles: finely chop the shallots; minced garlic, rehydrated trumpets, white mushrooms. Saute with shallots until the water has evaporated. Mix the meat with the cream and the egg for the mousseline stuffing. Add chopped parsley, liver and breast sautéed beforehand. Spice. Mix and stuff the thigh into a ballottine. Tie up. Bake in a hot oven at 230°C until brown (approx. 10 min.). Lower to 80°C for 20 min. Let rest for 15 min.
The chef accompanies it with a pumpkin aligot with a grated local truffle.