No, it’s not a redundant title.
Okay, yes, technically it is. But only because tonight’s dinner of Country Captain comes courtesy of Bobby Flay’s Throwdown!
Don’t give me that look. Yes, it is the case that Bobby Flay is kind of a tool. Yes, it is the case that I loathe Throwdown, the best episode of which is the one where the Doughnut Plant guy got super-insulted at the idea of a Throwdown and refused to cook live. However, it is also the case that (1) tool or not, Bobby Flay’s recipes are damn good and (2) the book was on sale.*
The book also has the advantage of having all the non-Flay recipes in it, as well. This Country Captain actually comes from good ol’ Southern boys the Lee Brothers.
*Thanks to a going-out-of-business Borders, we’re having an unprecedented streak of new-cookbook Smackdowns.
As you can see, it starts with shit pellets soaking in urine.
I kid! They’re obviously not turds, they’re raisins reconstituting in hot chicken stock. I refer to them as turds only because I hate raisins. So, an auspicious beginning!
Let’s take a step back before we get into the nitty gritty and consider Country Captain, which I feel strongly should be written as “Country Cap’n.” It’s a low southern thing, a chicken stew with tomatoes, raisins, bell peppers and curry powder. Yes, curry powder. Most versions also seem to involve bacon and almonds. The chicken is browned in bacon fat, which can’t be bad, and then simmered in a thick tomato-y curry sauce until done.
I couldn’t find out where the name came from – anyone? anyone? – although my cursory internet research did reveal that it was the favorite entree of FDR.
The Lee Brothers version has garam masala along with regular curry powder; for those playing along at home, my garam masala blend includes coriander, cardamom, cumin, cassia, cloves, mace, bay and black pepper.*
*It’s not really MY garam masala, it’s World Spice Merchants’. Love them.
So I cooked up some thick-cut bacon and browned up a bunch of chicken thighs in the rendered fat, which resulted in bacon grease covering roughly 3/4 of my tiny kitchen; a small price to pay. I removed the cooked chicken from the pan, toasted a dried pasilla chile in the fat and then added onion, carrot, yellow bell pepper and garlic.
Once the veg were barely tender, I dumped in a can of crushed tomato, the spices, the shit pellets and their urine and a buttload of ginger. I let everything come together on the stovetop, then nestled the chicken into the sauce and shoved it into the oven to finish cooking.
Et voila! It ain’t pretty, but it sure smells good.
I plated up some white rice that had been cooked in coconut milk and added the Country Captain, along with garnishes of bacon, toasted almonds and parsley.
Now granted, the book was on sale, but I’d say that this recipe makes it worth the price of admission. FDR was on to something: Country Captain is delicious. The heady mix of spices, the heat from the ginger, the sweetness of the sauteed veg and yes, the raisins, and the acid of the tomatoes played perfectly together. The garnishes were little pops of salt and crunch that really added to the dish. (The coconutty rice was a nice touch, too).
Plates were cleaned all around, and I predict a fight over the single leftover chicken thigh; note to self, make a bigger pot of Country Captain next time.