Country captain chicken

The history of Country Captain absolutely fascinates me. Do some searching around the Internet, and you’ll spend hours upon hours reading about this dish and folks like Cecily Brownstone, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and even the U.S. Army making Country Captain one of its Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) flavors (I’m kind of scared to see all that might be in it!). Some argue Country Captain was first introduced to the United States in the mid 1800s in my home city (Philadelphia), while others say that a captain involved in the spice trade in India brought it in via Charleston or Savannah. Whatever you believe, one thing is true: this dish is a staple in the South. I absolutely love the way Sam Sifton of the New York Times described this dish in a 2009 article: “Made correctly, it captures exactly that moment of excitement you can feel when first arriving in the region from far away: a sense that everything really is different in the South, that it is the one last, true regional culture in the United States.” Philly may have cheese steaks, but the South does have a culture all its own and Country Captain is one such example.

As I’m a fan of “one-dish meals,” the original recipe in no way called for broccoli—I just wanted some additional carbs.

Adapted from Cecily Brownstone’s recipe.

¼ cup (40 g) almond flour
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 pounds (1.5 kg) chicken, thighs and breasts work best
2 tablespoons olive oil or grass-fed clarified butter
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 quart (1 L) tomatoes
3 cups (500 g) broccoli (optional)
3 tablespoons currants
3 tablespoons almonds, blanched and toasted

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Combine the almond flour, salt, pepper, and thyme in a large bowl or dish. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and set aside.
  3. Heat a large Dutch oven or braiser over medium heat, add the chicken and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low, and add the onions, green pepper, garlic and curry powder, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Add the chicken back to the pan along with the tomatoes and broccoli, stirring to combine.
  5. Cover and cook for 25–30 minutes, then add currants, stir, and place back in the oven for another 5–10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  6. Serve topped with almonds.

Variation—Don’t tell Ms. Brownstone (rest her soul), but I find the recipe is super tasty even without the currants. Feel free to omit if you’d like, or if you can’t find currants, use some golden raisins.

Ingredient Notes—Saying “curry” is a bit like saying “sauce.” There are so many variations to it. If you aren’t making your own curry powder, find one you like. I particularly like the Penzey’s Maharajah curry powder.

Hint—If kept in air-tight container, these freeze for a few months just fine.