Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Country Captain

Give me some curry, chicken, and a bowl of rice and you will have a happy me!  I did some research to find out where Country Captain got it's name, I mean, southern chicken curry casserole?...and it doesn't even have chicken in the name!  So, confused, but armed with Google I found a clue on What's Cooking America, which is actually kind of a cool resource.  That is, if you're a food nerd like me.  

"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.”

So, mystery solved, I snuck into my local Trader Joe's, bought a chicken and some currants, and jogged home to start prepping.  Some recipes call for all thighs, but I used a whole chicken and butchered it.  Some of us in the family like white meat and some prefer dark, so I use a whole chicken when I can.  I actually don't mind cutting up a chicken, I've carved so many birds over the last decade that I take a small pride in knowing how to do it.  Plus it's cheaper!!!  It's one of the best things you can learn, right along side properly boiling an egg and cooking rice.  

Chicken butchered, I tossed the pieces in flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and dried thyme.  In a stockpot I melted butter and olive oil and browned the pieces, being careful not to over crowd the pan.  A chicken cut into 8 pieces should be browned in two or three pans, or you're really just steaming the poor bird.  

Once the chicken was golden and resting on a tray, I chopped bacon and fried it until crispy, then drained the bits on a paper towel.  You'll be back for it later, so don't snack on it!!

I poured off most of then fat and then sauteed onion, garlic, green bell peppers, celery, curry powder, and raisins until soft.

Lastly, I added in a large can of diced tomatoes, juice and all, and simmered for about 10 minutes.

All that was left was to add a little sauce into the baking pan, place the chicken pieces in, and then top with the remaining sauce.  Covered with foil, it went into the oven for 45 minutes at 325.  

When it's all cooked & smells amazing, I serve on rice with some currants, toasted almonds (or peanuts), and the bacon bits I made earlier.

Now...I hate to waste anything.  So when I chop up a chicken and the back gets taken out, and I cut the wing tips off where do they go?  Into a pot with celery ends, onion roots & skin, carrot ends & skin, water, dry sherry, peppercorns, cloves, and bay leaves....or whatever I have on hand.  

Stock is a totally flexible organism, you just use what you have.  Then I left it alone at a simmer while all the browning happened, and when the chicken went into the oven I strained and made some rice!  Because, why use water to make rice when you can add flavor?!  Right?!

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