Cappon Magro

Joined Jan 11, 2002
As I promised in another thread, this is the recipe of the Cappon Magro, one of the main glories of the Ligurian cooking! Basically it's a fish/seafood/vegetable salad, served cold with a green sauce...but which makes it so special are the ingredients, which must be the best available (actually this dish wasn't born to make use of the leftovers!), and the decorative way how it is arranged (unfortunately I can't attach a photo to my post).
There are two theories about the origin of its curious name, which means "Lean Capon".
The first is that the fish formerly used for this recipe was the "Pesce Cappone" or "Gallinella" (don't ask me to translate this, please!).
The second one says that the name comes from the fact that this was the typical dish of the festive occasions when people was not allowed to eat meat, like the Christmas' Eve (these days are called in Italian "Giorni di Magro"). So, since the traditional dish of the Christmas lunch was the capon (Cappone in Italian)...this dish couldn't be called otherwise than "Cappon Magro"!
As you can imagine, I like more the second, funnier theory...
Nowadays, here in Genova it's becoming more and more difficult to find the real thing (elsewhere it's almost unknown), mainly in the restaurants due to its high cost. Many deli shops in town sell a cheaper version, made of canned tuna, shrimps and vegetables, molded in gelatine and then cut in slices...but it's another thing:(

So, if you have time and money this is the recipe:

Ingredients (serve 6-8)
-2 fresh fish, about 1 1/2 lb each. If you cannot find (as I think) the "Pesce Cappone", any fish with a white and delicate meat, like loup-de-mer or daurade and so on, can be good as well.
-16 king prawns
-8 langoustines
-1 small lobster (optional)
-1/2 lb green beans
-1/2 lb potatoes
-1/2 lb carrots
-A half baked beetroot
-3-4 ship biscuits (or something like Wasa Crackers if you can't find them)
-Black spanish olives
-3 hard eggs
-1 garlic clove
-vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, EVOO
-8 oysters (optional)

For the green sauce:
-1 handful fresh parsley
-2 oz pine nuts
-1 oz capers (possibly the salted and not the pickled ones)
-2 salted anchovies
-2 hard egg yolks
-2-3 oz soft bread, soaked in vinegar
-4 black spanish olives
-2 tbsp vinegar
-1/2 glass EVOO
-salt to taste

1)Boil or steam the fish and shellfish, clean them, dice the meat in cubes and season them (separately) with oil, salt and few lemon juice. Reserve only the langoustines, which can be kept whole and unshelled. Of course don't cook the oysters!

2)Cut the vegetables in pieces, boil or steam them (apart from the beetroot, of course), season separately with oil, vinegar and salt.

3)Hard boil the eggs. Keep everything aside until cold.

4)Brush the ship biscuits with the garlic, then soak them in 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar until soft enough. Drain them.

5)Prepare the sauce: process all the ingredients in a blender, then push the sauce through a sieve (in many recipes this step is omitted, but as for me it's mandatory to get a good result). Add the salt only at the end as it couldn't be unnecessary.

6)Layer the ship biscuits on the bottom of a large serving dish, then add all the other ingredients one on the other in separate layers, brushing each layer with some sauce and alternating the colors in a nice way (as you have probably noticed, every ingredient has a different color). The layers must become smaller and smaller from the bottom to the top, to make the Cappon Magro dome-shaped. Reserve the langoustines, the oysters, the eggs, some carrots (cut in rounds), olives and capers for garnish.

7)Spread the remaining sauce on the surface of the Cappon Magro. Garnish it with the langoustines, round slices of eggs and carrots, olives and capers, according to your eye (traditionally, the garnishing vegetables are skewered and sticked into the dome). Just before serving, open the oysters and place them around the Cappon Magro.

If you're still alive after all that hard work...sit at the table and ENJOY!

Joined Jan 11, 2002
Hmmm...Errata Corrige at point 5):

Salt "Could be unnecessary" of course...capers and anchovies usually are salted enough to taste the sauce

Joined Jan 11, 2002
Errata Corrige of the Errata Corrige:
"Salted enough to GIVE TASTE to the sauce"
...Can't imagine a SALTED ANCHOVY still alive enough to taste anything, even if this sauce is really delicious :D

Pongi again
Joined Feb 6, 2002

:bounce: Is this it Pongi? Is this it? :bounce:

Joined Jan 11, 2002
WOW...THAT was a wealthy cook!
Although the Cappon Magri I've seen (and made) in my life weren't hidden under such a big lobster, yeah, I think it is:lips: Thanks for your help Shawtycat!
To imagine the usual look, you have to substitute the lobster ( :( ) with eight-ten skewers with olives, carrots and prawns.
BTW, I forgot to say that you can made a quicker version of this recipe, simply making a salad with your favourite fish or seafood and boiled vegetables and dressing it with the green sauce. This dish is called "Capponadda" (and obviously has nothing to do with the Sicilian "Caponata di melanzane")

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