Capon cooked in spiced mead wine with roasted carrots, sprouts and croutons

Capon cooked in spiced mead wine with roasted carrots, sprouts and croutons

  • serves 6
  • A little effort

Capon, large chicken, is a really special meat to cook over the festive season. The spiced mead gives Ben Spalding's show stopping recipe a wintery edge.



  • capon 1, approx 3kg
  • mead 1 x 700ml bottle
  • chicken stock 250ml
  • black peppercorns 10
  • star anise 2
  • cinnamon stick 1/2
  • juniper berries 5
  • thyme 4 sprigs
  • marjoram 4 sprigs
  • garlic 3 cloves, sliced
  • rapeseed or sunflower oil
  • sea salt flakes
  • unsalted butter 100g


  • thin carrots 500g bunch, scrubbed or peeled
  • clear honey 4 tbsp
  • caraway seeds 2 tbsp

  • small Brussels sprouts 250g, trimmed and halved through the root


  • sourdough bread 1/2 loaf, cut into squares


  • Step 1

    Take the bird from the fridge an hour or so before cooking, to bring it up to room temperature. Bring the mead, chicken stock and the spices, herbs and garlic to the boil in a small pan and then cool to room temperature. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Put the capon in a large, deep tray and rub with oil, then season heavily with fine salt and ground black pepper all over, including the cavity.

  • Step 2

    Pour the mead stock with the spices directly over the capon and let the stock make a pool in the bottom of the tray, then put it into the oven and cook for 45 minutes per kilo (so a 3kg bird would take 2 hours 15 minutes). Baste the bird with the juices every 20 minutes – this will let the spiced mead flavour penetrate the flesh.

  • Step 3

    To check the bird is cooked, pierce the fattest part of the thigh and see if the juices run clear. If not give it another 10-15 minutes then check again. Rest for 1 hour under foil.

  • Step 4

    Toss the carrots with the honey and caraway seeds and mix with your hands to coat them thoroughly, season with fine salt and black pepper, then spread out on a large baking tray in a flat layer. Put in the oven for 30 minutes until cooked but still with a bite and glazed well in the caraway honey. Drop the sprouts into a large boiling pot of water with 2 large handfuls of fine salt – check the taste of the water, it should be incredibly salty, tasting like the sea. This means the salt will penetrate the vegetable and give depth of flavour so you won’t have to add lots of salt at the end of cooking. Boil until just al dente (about 2-3 minutes).

  • Step 5

    To make the gravy, skim the fat off the spiced mead, strain it off into a saucepan and boil to reduce by half, then whisk in 100g butter. Fry the bread in a little oil for  a few minutes until golden then season. Serve the capon on a platter with all  the accompaniments.

Check out our best ever Christmas recipes for 'anything but turkey' here


Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 931
  • Fat 49.9g
  • Carbs 42.7g
  • Fibre 4.3g
  • Protein 69.2g
  • Salt 3.08g