Monday, March 12, 2007

Country Captain Chicken

While living in the South I came across this recipe for an unusual curried chicken dish. It is pretty unique to the Southeast, so if you haven't lived down there for an exteneded time you probably have never come across it.

The chicken is browned and then stewed in a sauce of tomatoes, "The Trinity", garlic, and curry powder. At the end, golden raisins are added. The dish is served over rice sprinkled with toasted almonds. As with all chicken recipes in the South, Country Captain Chicken varies with the cook. Some prefer it with just boneless breast meat, while others like the whole fryer cut up into pieces. One thing is always certain about this dish; it is perfumed and spiced with curry.

This delicious dish, known throughout Georgia, dates to the early 1800s. It is thought that this dish was brought to Georgia by a British sea captain who had been stationed in Bengali, India and shared the recipe with some friends in the port city of Savannah, Georgia. Savannah was then a major shipping port for the spice trade. The dish was named for the officers in India called “Country Captains.”

Country Captain Chicken

1 Broiler Chicken cut into parts
1/2 cup flour
4 slices chopped bacon
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup celery chopped
1/2 large red bell pepper chopped
1/2 large green pepper chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can plum or Roma tomatoes, crushed
1 tablespoon curry powder or to taste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 rounded tablespoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325 . In a shallow dish, combine flour, salt, and pepper. Roll chicken pieces in flour mixture to coat all sides. In a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat, brown the bacon, and remove once brown. Add chicken pieces and cook 5 minutes per side or until light brown.

Transfer chicken to an oven-proof dish and keep warm in the oven; reserving drippings in frying pan.

Reduce heat to medium low. To the pan drippings, add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are transparent. Add tomatoes, curry powder, salt, pepper, and thyme; cover pan and simmer gently an additional 15 minutes. Add the browned chicken and golden raisins; cover and simmer another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender.

I like serving this with some Mango Chutney, on the side with some Rice.

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