Everything about Freamunde’s capon

Capon, or Capão in Portuguese, is a delicacy appreciated in Portugal but especially in Freamunde, a town in the Paços de Ferreira municipality, in the North of Portugal. This Portuguese city excelled in the art of caponizing and cooking capon. In addition to Freamunde, there are other places in Portugal where capon is appreciated, such as the Algarve, Bairrada, Leiria, and others. It is also one of the traditional Christmas in Portugal.

The capon is a rooster that was castrated at three months old – when caponized, the animal tends to get fat, making its meat succulent and delicious. In Freamunde, the capon is slowly roasted in the oven and served with roasted potatoes and greens. It is a delightful dish that is well worth a visit to Freamunde to eat it.

In this article, we will explore the tradition and history of the capon in Freamunde.

Everythings about Freamunde Capon
Freamunde Capon with filling roasted potatoes and greens

What is a Capon?

The capon is a rooster that was neutered at 2 to 3 months. To caponize the rooster, it is necessary to cut the testicles of the animal. However, the castration process must be done very carefully and by someone experienced who knows what they are doing; otherwise, the rooster will become badly neutered. The art of caponizing requires excellent precision and is passed on from generation to generation. When the castration is done poorly, the roosters die of infections, or the animal grows a little larger than normal roosters but never as significant as a capon.

The advantage of caponizing a rooster is that he loses interest in the hens and is only interested in food. The result of castration and intensive feeding leads to an increase in fat, making the meat softer and more flavorful.

Capons must be fed corn and cabbage to get their yellow skin and must be able to roam free to peck at the earth. They must not be raised with roosters or hens because their companions attack them. At nine months, when it reaches a weight between 3 and 7 kg, it is ready to be cooked. The capon is drunk with a glass of port wine, and 30 minutes later, it is killed.

History of the Capon

According to the legend, “In ancient Rome, the consul Caio Cânio, fed up with the roosters crowing at dawn, prohibited the existence of roosters in the urban perimeter. So the producers started to castrate the rooster, emerging the Capões or Capons. The producers realized that the capon meat was much more delicious and succulent and became fans.” (History found in the book Freamunde – notas de uma monografia).

Whether the legend is true or not, the capon prevailed in Freamunde, where it is particularly loved at Christmas, becoming a tradition in this city and Paços de Ferreira.

History of the Freamunde Capon
Slow roasted Capon

Capão Fair in Freamunde

One of the most important events to promote the capon is the Santa Luzia fair, also known as the capon fair, which takes place every year on December 13. Capons and other birds are exhibited and sold at this fair, attracting all capon lovers and other people. In addition to capons, other products are sold at the fair, such as vegetables, cheese, clothes, and shoes.

It is usually at this time that people start making preparations for Christmas and choosing the capon for Christmas Eve.

The Santa Luzia fair dates back to the 15th century and was established by King D. João V on October 3, 1719. Travelers and traders came from all over, even Galicia. It was even customary to offer a capon as a gift in the past. The fair continues to be an event of national relevance and much appreciated by the Galicians.

Currently, the gastronomic fair takes place simultaneously with the fair, which is a good time to taste capon cooked in local restaurants.

Capon gastronomic Fair

The capon gastronomic fair takes place in the first two weeks of December when the capon is celebrated and promoted. As such, several restaurants in the city participate in the gastronomic contest to choose the best Freamunde capon of the year.

The restaurants participating in the competition vary from year to year, and it is the ideal time to try and appreciate this Freamunde delicacy. Capão is served with roasted potatoes and greens, and it is usually served to the unit and upon order. Since a capon can weigh between 3 and 7 kg, the ideal is to be eaten in good company and foodies. In 2021, some restaurants serve capon by the dose or half capon and with the possibility of take-away service.

If you haven’t tried a Capão à Freamunde yet, we advise you to eat one during the Gastronomy fair and evaluate this delicacy for yourself.

Where to eat Capon in Freamunde
Several restaurants serve capon during the gastronomic fair; some even have take-away.

How to cook Capão à Freamunde

To make the Capão à Freamunde, it is necessary to get the capon drunk with a glass of port wine. After half an hour, the bird is killed, plucked, opened, and washed. Then, soak the capon in cold water with lemon slices for about an hour. After that time, drain and leave the capon to marinate with vine and garlic for 24 to 48 hours.

On the cooking day, place a pan with olive oil, lard, and sliced ​​onions on the fire. When the onions are golden, add a good spoon of butter, white wine, and salt to taste.

Before putting it in the oven, fill the capon with the capon giblets, onion, garlic, bay leaf, ham, sausage, and chorizo. It is placed in the clay roasting pan (drip pan). Roast slowly by basting the capon with sauce, usually for 3 hours, covered with aluminum foil. Half an hour before the capon is ready, remove the aluminum foil to toast the skin so that it is crispy and golden. After this time, it is ready to serve. You just cut it, be careful not to spoil the skin, and enjoy. Roasted potatoes and greens usually accompany capon.

(Recipe from the book Freamunde – notes for a monograph)

Freamunde Capon recipe
Cutting and serving the capon

Where to eat capon à Freamunde

In addition to the restaurants that serve capon during the gastronomic fair, the ideal time to eat capon, some restaurants serve capon throughout the year in Freamunde and in the municipality of Paços de Ferreira.

One of the restaurants that we recommend the most is Restaurante da Presa in Freamunde. It is a place of reference, and the capon is delicious; the meat is roasted slowly in the oven with crispy skin and roasted potatoes. The restaurant owner is very friendly and attentive and the atmosphere of the restaurant is cozy.

Other restaurants of reference in Freamunde are Aidé, O Gusto Restaurante, and Os Primos. We have never been there but they have good reviews and usually participate in the gastronomic contest of capão.

Where to eat Capão à Freamunde
Delicious capon we had in Restaurante da presa in Freamunde

We would like to thank Ana Barbosa for helping to gather information for this article, as well as Alberto Barbosa and Diamantina Bastos for sharing a delicious capon at Restaurante da Presa. Mr…. from the Presa restaurant was also very helpful and friendly.

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