I love old recipes. I like finding them in the vintage cookbooks I adore…especially if they are handwritten in the fly leaf. Country Captain is one of these. There just aren’t many people that don’t love it once they taste it – an old, old recipe for a chicken curry type dish that has been popular in the Deep South for over 150 years.
What I wanted to see was if I could make it work in a slow cooker and if I could spice it up just a little. I started with a recipe that I had seen in Saveur.
I used chicken breast. I realize that using whole chicken cut up will add more flavor because of the bones but I rarely by anything but chicken breast. My family eats chicken breast really well… sometimes other parts not so much. You can use a whole chicken, cut up or chicken thighs if you don’t want to use chicken breast.
I also used, yes, a full pound of bacon. The smoky flavor meshed well and because I was using chicken breast the extra fat was a good thing. I also added a little jalapeno for bite. In retrospect I think chipotle would have been better and I will do that next time. The flavors here are warm and fresh, exotic and comforting all at the same time. It is a nice introduction to curry flavor for those that have not had it before. I used my crockpot. It just made it simple and kept the kitchen cool.
Before the chicken went into the crockpot I dredged it in flour and sauteed it in the bacon fat. This gave it a great color and flavor that held throughout the cooking time. I really think it was an important step.
You want to serve this with rice or even couscous. The meat is tender and the vegetables slump together in a melange of warm camaraderie. A sprinkle of toasted pecans on the top of each serving adds nice texture and a little flavor boost. I made my 6 qt crockpot full – but don’t worry… it freezes great!
- 6 boneless chicken breasts
- 1½ cups flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbs pepper
- pinch of cayenne
- 1 lb bacon
- 3 Texas 1015 onions, chopped
- 2 Bell peppers, chopped
- 1 Yellow pepper, chopped
- 1 Jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- 1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 6 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
- 4 16 oz cans of diced organic tomatoes (really, it makes a difference in flavor)
- 3 heaping teaspoons of curry powder
- ½ teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
- ½ tsp ginger
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup currants
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans for garnish
- Rice to accompany the Country Captain
- Cut the chicken breast in chunks
- Mix the flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne
- Dredge the chicken in the flour and shake off excess.
- Set aside.
- Chop the bacon up and cook it until crisp
- Remove from the pan and reserve the drippings
- Sear the chicken in the hot bacon fat until golden on each side, but not cooked through.
- Remove from pan.
- Saute the onions, celery, apples, and peppers in the same pan until they begin to soften. Add garlic and saute for five more minutes.
- Set aside.
- Pour the tomatoes into a crock pot.
- Add the curry, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, bay leaf, and butter.
- Stir well.
- Add the bacon, cooked vegetables, currants and chicken and stir.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
- To serve, spoon over rice. Sprinkle on toasted pecans and more currants.
Nice to have
Here are some items you will need to complete this dish. Just click on the picture for more details.
images: marye audet (c)2010