COUNTRY CAPTAIN (with curry, onion, pepper and tomatoes, for four)
“No one knows precisely the origin of the dish known throughout Georgia and much of the South as country captain. The theory is that it was introduced to the port of Savannah by the captain of a vessel that plied the spice route from India in the early 1800s.” Craig Claiborne, Southern Cooking “Country captain sounds as though it originated in the southern United States. It is, according to authoritative sources, a dish from India, and the word captain is a corruption of capon.” Craig Claiborne, The New York Times Cookbook
“Country captain, a chicken curry casserole, is a mainstay of Southern Junior League cookbooks from the postwar period and a welcome sight at community buffets. The dish was perhaps the most famous southern dish for a brief time between the World Wars, when FDR (and General Patton) took a shine to it.” The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook “But it was Cecily Brownstone, the Associated Press food writer, who kept the recipe alive for decades. Brownstone got James Beard to teach the recipe at his school and Irma Rombauer to publish it in The Joy of Cooking.” Amanda Hesser, The Essential New York Times Cookbook
one 3-pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/3 cup finely diced green pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1-1/2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon dried, crushed thyme
1 can (1 pound) stewed tomatoes
3 tablespoons dried currants (washed and drained)
blanched toasted almonds
- Wash and drain the chicken and coat it with a mixture of the flour, salt and pepper.
- Heat the butter in a large skillet and brown the chicken. This will take about 10 minutes per batch, turning once. Remove it from the skillet.
- Add the onion, green pepper, garlic, curry powder and thyme to the skillet. Stir over low heat to loosen any browned particles. Add the stewed tomatoes, including the liquid.
- Return the chicken to the skillet, skin side up. Cover and cook very slowly until tender, 20 to 25 minutes (if you add more pieces of chicken, or if your chicken pieces are large, increase the braising time). Stir the currants into the sauce and serve accompanied by almonds. (After the chicken is browned and the sauce is made, the dish may be baked, covered, in a slow (325*) oven until tender, about 45 minutes).
adapted from Cecily Brownstone by James Beard in American Cookery