Don’t you love it when a recipe has a cute name or a story to go with it? This one has both. Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Country Captain? No, it’s not a fish shack on the beach. If you know about this recipe, chance are you’ve lived or visited the Lowcountry around the shores of Savannah or Charleston.
According to culinary legend this lively chicken dish was the work of 19th century British sea captains bringing spices from India to the New World. The mild stew is one of the first instance of Anglo-Indian fusion cuisine. Chefs from Craig Claiborne to Paula Deen have a version, but all recipes show similar ingredients: browned chicken pieces, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, curry, almonds, garlic and raisins.
Country Captain Makes History
In tribute to Gen. George Patton, Country Captain was once included in the military’s Meals, Ready-to-Eat field rations. The World War II general had been introduced to the dish by FDR and both men counted it among their favorites. The classic chicken dish was served to Queen Elizabeth as part of the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. This is one of the few entrees to have its own Wikipedia entry! Here’s the recipe I used this weekend.
Early recipes for Country Captain, dating from before the Civil War, called for a “fine full-grown fowl.” I did my best with chicken pieces from Schnucks. Some recipes suggested serving it with condiments: coconut, almonds, green onions, and banana slices. As to the curry, one old recipes declared the spice should be “so fresh that opening a jar perfumes the kitchen.” My curry from Penzey had a lot of competition from other kitchen aromas, but worked just fine.
A Special Friday Evening in Springfield
The weekend also included a meal in Springfield. I was delighted to be on stage with the other inductee to the Missouri State University Public Affairs Hall of Fame. Despite driving through a rainstorm and keeping an eye on the tornado predictions, it was a lovely evening at the unique conference-meeting area at Bass Pro in Springfield.