Rainy Day Southern Comfort Food

Southern quotes to live by ” After all,  tomorrow is another day” Scarlett O’hara
Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind

Wow, plenty of rainy days going on around here and some days you just want something that screams comfort food so with that in mind I dug out a stack of favorite chicken recipes from my keeper files considering Zuni Cafe’s Chicken with Bread Salad a popular dish in our house, Truman Capote’s Chicken Hash and an insanely good simple dish for a casual party…perfect for game night parties, but I finally settled on a  Country Captain that I haven’t made in years.

On one trip to Savannah I had a fabulous dish of country captain, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant so I kind of took notes on the seasonings for a far deeper tasting dish than just plain curry powder, garam masala, or similar 1 blend seasonings…well don’t you know that after searching my files the Garden & Gun recipe stood out (I made that recipe about 5 years ago) and found it a very close recipe to what I had feasted on while in Savannah.

Many families in the south have their family versions and while I don’t have an original recipe, I slightly adapted GG’s recipe for my keeper recipe and still one of Mike’s favorite dishes and he swears that I make it so I can order fresh spices, which not far from the truth as I did have to replenish several after wiping out the little jars of cardamom, cumin, turmeric, and ground ginger.  I predict that Country Captain will be served once again in the near future, especially with fall right around the corner.  BTW if you have the opportunity to check out the history of country captain it is fascinating and not without disputed territorial claims.

Steven Satterfield’s homemade curry powder is just the beginning for a great flavor profile and you can make it your own if you choose to expand beyond what he has blended I for one added pinches of this and that or added a bit more of what he suggests, but here are the basics of the curry blend:

Country Captain Inspired by Steven Satterfield slightly adapted

2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinches of cayenne pepper
pinches of dried thyme (I used about 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves)
pinch of dried mustard
Blend all of the spices and set aside and just a note, I did use the entire amount, but you can add as much or as little as you want…

Prep your chicken, 1 whole chicken cut into 10 pieces, patted dry and seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper
Use a 6-8 quart heavy stainless pan for browning

2 cups diced yellow onion
2 cups of diced celery
2 cups diced green pepper
1 hot chili, seeded and minced (sub sprinkles of red pepper flakes to taste)

1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups San Marzano canned tomatoes, chopped and at least a cup of the juice from the can
1 pod Knorr concentrated chicken stock
1 cup of water
2 fresh bay leaves
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only

Of course, including butter and bacon fat for browning the salt and peppered chicken pieces is a great start!  Add 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons bacon fat and heat over medium heat when it gets a little bubbly and chicken pieces and brown on all sides/, as usual, don’t crowd the pan and brown in batches if necessary remove chicken to a plate.  Over medium heat add all of the vegetables, stir a few times to remove the little brown bits then toss in the spices, stirring into the vegetables to coat, cook until veggies are tender.

Add the tomatoes, juice, stock pod, water, bay leaves, and thyme leaves, stir well and bring the pot up to simmer add the chicken to the pot, cover and over low heat for at least 35 minutes perhaps a bit longer until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
I love Creole rice so I made that for the chicken dish, but any favorite rice will do…I didn’t have much in the way of an assortment of condiments, so chopped green onions, chopped dry roasted nuts, a few pickled hot peppers, and golden raisins had to do.  Consider, sliced almonds, coconut, 1/4 cup dried currants, apple or green tomato chutney…

Print this recipe: Country Captain