Recipe of the week: Country Captain, one of America’s 1st fusion dishes
Some people consider Country Captain to be one of the first fusion dishes in America.
The curried chicken dish dates back to the colonial era, when sea captains from the British East India Company would dock in southern ports such as Savannah, and it first appeared in an American cookbook in the mid-1800s.
Ellen Brown, the founding food editor of USA Today who has now written more than 40 cookbooks, included this modernized version in her latest book, “The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook” (Sterling Epicure, $24.95), which offers countless ideas for that workhorse of a pan, including a Spanish tortilla, seared chicken hash and blueberry clafoutis.
There’s plenty of curry in this sauce, which is balanced by the sweetness of dried currants, a hefty splash of sherry and lots of vegetables. I like to serve it with rice, and it keeps well in the fridge. Reheat in a covered dish in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
— Ellen Brown
4 to 6 chicken pieces with bones and skin (legs, thighs, breasts cut in half if large)
Salt and ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced
2 Tbsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes in their juice
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup dried currants
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat a deep 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, and tilt the pan around to coat it evenly. Add the chicken pieces to the skillet and brown them well on all sides, turning them gently with tongs. Be careful to not crowd the pan. Transfer the chicken to a platter and set aside.
Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the curry powder, ginger, allspice, and thyme to the pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add the tomatoes, sherry, stock, and currants to the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
Return the chicken pieces to the skillet and cover the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the chicken for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through, it registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, and the juices run clear.
While the chicken cooks, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until browned. Transfer the almonds on the sheet to a rack to cool, and set aside.
Season the chicken to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately, sprinkling each serving with toasted almonds and cilantro. Serves 4 to 6.
— From “The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook” by Ellen Brown (Sterling Epicure, $24.95)