Recipe: Capercaillie breast with oven-roasted root vegetables, savoy cabbage and Calvados sauce

Capercaillie is the bird that bears the clearest flavors from the wilds, which creates unique and delicious dishes with a lot of taste and aroma. It is not uncommon to also feel hints of the capercaillie's one-sided diet of pine needles and junipers.

Capercaillie meat is a lean meat that easily becomes dry and hard when cooked or grilled. The dark, tasty meat therefore requires careful cooking. The older the bird, the leaner the meat. Therefore, a good tip is to add extra fat or cook it partly in a frying bag.

In this recipe, we fry the capercaillie in a pan, but it is also possible to make it in the oven if you prefer that. The recipe is for 4 people.

You need: 

  • For the fried capercaillie:
    - 2 breast fillets (4 if it is a smaller capercaillie)
    - Sichuan pepper
    - juniper
    - salt
    - butter and oil

  • For oven-roasted root vegetables:
    - 300 g potatoes
    - 300 g parsnip
    - 300 g carrot
    - a couple of celeriac pieces
    - 1 pot of thyme
    - salt
    - oil

  • For buttered savoy cabbage:
    - A few leaves of savoy cabbage
    - butter
    - salt
    - water

  • For calvados sauce:
    - 2 carrots
    - 1 parsnip
    - 1-2 onions
    - 1 piece of celeriac (approx. 50g)
    - 1 dl Calvados, or other preferred spirit
    - ½ liter fond
    - 4 dl cream
    - salt
    - vinegar
    - butter

Here's how you do it:

The capercaillie fillets:
Make sure the fillets are trimmed and fine from the skins. If you are cooking several fillets at the same time it is good if they are approximately the same size. Otherwise you have to reckon with different cooking times. Mortar the spices to a coarse-grained mixture.

Massage the spices into the fillets and use salt before frying. Make sure you put a generous amount of butter in the frying pan. As we wrote earlier, capercaillie is a lean meat so use a lot of butter! Fry the breasts on both sides when the pan is hot and pour the meat with butter throughout the frying to keep the meat juicy and get the flavors firmly in the fillets. Use a thermometer and turn off the heat when the inner temperature of the meat has reached 50 degrees. Let the fillets rest in the pan so that the internal temperature slowly rises to 56-58 degrees. 

Roast the root vegetables in the oven:
Prepare the root vegetables by peeling and cutting them into reasonably large pieces and place them on a oven plate. Add plenty of salt, pour over oil and put them in the oven at 200 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. When the root vegetables are done, sprinkle with fresh thyme.

The buttered savoy cabbage:
As the savoy cabbage doesn't take a long time to prepare you can do this step right before the serving. Pull (do not cut) the leaves into a few smaller pieces and put them in boiling water for a few seconds. Take them out and dip them quickly in a bowl of cold water and ice to stop the boiling and then put them in a saucepan with melted butter and salt.

The Calvados Sauce:
The sauce requires a little presence to be good, so make sure you keep an eye on the whole process. Cut the root vegetables into smaller pieces and place them in a saucepan with melted butter on medium heat. Brown the vegetables without stirring that they get proper color. Do not be afraid if it gets a little bit burned on the bottom, it just gives flavor and character to the sauce.

When the root vegetables are soft, glossy and have a nice color, lower the heat and turn on the calvados. Remove the pan from the heat just as you turn on the spirit, especially if you cook on a gas stove. Let the liquid boil off and turn on the fond and let it boil for another 10 minutes. Add the cream and let the sauce cook until you have the taste and texture you want. Taste the sauce with salt and a few drops of vinegar.

Good luck and have a tasty meal!

Recipe and photo: Tobias Eriksson

Related pages