This dish certainly isn't Italian, or Californian for that matter. It's Creole. But it's an old standby that I've been preparing since my salad days. I received The Joy of Cooking from my Mother-in-law as a shower gift and it became my kitchen Bible. This was the first recipe I tried and it was a big hit with my husband. I've made it many times since.
According to Irma Rombauer, the author of Joy of Cooking, (isn't she sweet?), the origin of Country Captain is unknown. Legend has it that it was a dish introduced to the American South by a sea captain, working the spice trade in the East India Company. There is a theory that the name is a bastardization of Country Capon, because it was made with a capon, or rooster. Whatever the origin of the name it is a wonderful warm, slightly exotic dish that is considered to be one of the first fusion dishes developed in America.
About the ingredients. You can use a whole fryer, cut up, or substitute chicken thighs. I've used both with success, so buy what's on sale. Raisins can be substituted for the currants. Curry powder can be hot and spicy or mellow and warm, whichever you prefer. Canned diced tomatoes...I used fire roasted, but any canned tomatoes will do.
So here we go, Country Captain...
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- about 3.5 lbs of chicken, fryer cut into pieces
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 med yellow onions, chopped
- 2 med. green peppers chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 (14.5) oz cans diced tomatoes
- 1 Tbs curry powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground thyme (I use fresh, but dried will do)
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 3/4 cups currants
- 1 cup slivered toasted almonds
- fresh parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 350º.
In a large zip lock bag, combine the flour, salt and cayenne pepper. Shake to mix. Add chicken pieces and shake to coat well.
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet and brown the chicken pieces until they are browned on both sides. Transfer chicken to a 13x9 baking dish. Discard all but a light coating of oil from the skillet.
Saute the onions and peppers until they are soft. Add the minced garlic and curry powder and cook for a minute, stirring, until aromatic. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and thyme to the skillet. Stir well, deglazing the pan with the liquid, and pour over the chicken.
Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Add the currants, stirring to incorporate and cook another 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and spoon rice around the chicken. Garnish liberally with toasted almonds and sprinkle with chopped parsley. (opt.)
Here's a bit of music to put a smile on your face while you cook. :)
A chicken ain't nothin' but a bird..........