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Young male chicken which has been castrated and fattened to improve its flavour and also make it artificially fat. The Romans discovered the merits of gelding a cock produced a plumper and meatier bird - the important point being that the meat stayed tender. They are generally killed when between six and nine months old, when the birds weighed between six and eight pounds.

For a period of about 10 years (during the late 1940"s and mid 50"s) a synthetic female sex hormone, diethylstilbestrol, was often used to fatten these chickens more quickly, but it turned out to be a weak carcinogen, and there were also worries about its effect on the virility of men, so its no longer used in most countries. Capons have disappeared from supermarket shelves.

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards.

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