Country Captain

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    4 to 6

    servings

Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

A corruption of the word capon? a reference to a certain army officer involved in the Savannah spice trade in the eighteenth century? A colonial navy captain who brought the recipe back from India to Virginia? The legends abound over the origins of this mysterious chicken dish that has been a Southern classic for nearly two hundred years. What’s important to know is that a genuine country captain is not the quick fricassee you find in many restaurants, but rather a preparation that’s braised in a baking dish or casserole slowly enough to allow all the varied flavors to meld. I wouldn’t dream of cooking a country captain (on top of the stove or in the oven) for less than an hour, and since I like my chicken almost falling off the bones, I might let it simmer for up to 1½ hours.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • One 3- to 3½-pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons medium curry powder
  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped (juice included)
  • 3 tablespoons seedless golden raisins
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup sliced blanched almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish or casserole and set aside.

In a paper bag, combine the flour, salt and pepper, and allspice, add the chicken pieces, and shake well, tapping off the excess flour. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the butter and oil together over moderate heat, brown the seasoned chicken pieces on all sides, and transfer to a plate. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, and curry powder to the skillet and cook, stirring, till the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes plus their juices and the raisins, stir till slightly thickened, and remove from the heat.

Arrange half the chicken pieces in the prepared baking dish and spoon half the vegetables evenly over the top. Repeat with the remaining chicken and vegetables, add any remaining juices from the skillet plus the broth, and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle the almonds evenly over the top, and bake, uncovered, till the chicken is tender and the almonds browned, about 30 minutes.