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.
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
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
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