So… I gave in.
Long ago, I posted about Chicken in the Style of the Country Captain, a recipe I have been making since the 70’s. My version, from a newspaper food section, eschewed raisins and curry and almonds and stuff like that in favor of breaded and fried chicken with tomatoes, onion, peppers, and ‘shrooms.
And it was good, but…
I came across a classic Country Captain recipe from the Lee Brothers and thought;
And so, here it is, and it is also very good; although I replaced the raisins with dried cherries because, hey, look at where I live; and made a few other, ermmm, adjustments to suit my tastes and pantry shelves.
So… two fine options for Country Captain. Choose one, or go your own way and make it how you’d like it.
•1/2 cup chicken stock
•1/2 cup dried cherries
•1 tsp allspice
•2 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp Cajun seasoning
•1 tbsp curry
•1-1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
•1/2 tsp Cayenne
•1/4 lb diced pancetta
•8 chicken thighs (skin on, bone in)
•1 dried guajillo chile, split and seeds discarded
•2 cups shredded carrot
•2 cups diced celery
•2 cups diced red and orange pepper
•2 cups diced sweet onion
•8 oz sliced ‘shrooms
•3 cloves garlic, chopped
•28 oz can diced tomatoes
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
•Chopped fresh parsley
*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.
Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a small pot over high heat, then pour over the dried cherries in a bowl. Set aside to soak and cool.
Cook the diced pancetta in a Dutch oven over medium high heat until nicely crisped, mebbe five minutes or so.
Transfer the pancetta to a bowl and pour the fat out of the Dutch oven into a bowl or other heatproof container.
Add two tablespoons of the pancetta fat back to the pan and brown the chicken thighs over medium high heat – four or so at a time worked well with my pot – until golden brown, about five minutes per side.
Transfer the browned chicken to a platter, add additional fat to the pan, if you need to, brown the remaining chicken thighs, then transfer them to the platter with the rest of the chicken.
Add the ‘shrooms and cook until golden brown and mebbe just a bit crispity on some edges, about ten minutes. Transfer the ‘shrooms to the platter with the chicken and set aside.
Add a couple of teaspoons of the reserved pancetta fat, if needed, and add the split chile. Cook in the fat for about one minute, turning the chile over after 30 seconds, then add the onion, peppers, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook for six minutes, until the veggies are softened a bit.
Heat your oven to 350º.
Reduce the heat to medium low and add the tomatoes, fresh ginger, seasonings, and the dried cherries and the stock they’ve been soaking in.
Stir to mix well, then simmer for eight to ten minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down the the sauce has reduced and thickened around the veggies.
Add the chicken and ‘shrooms to the sauce, arranging the chicken thighs so that the skin side is up on top of the sauce.
Cover loosely with foil and bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling nicely around the chicken pieces.
Remove the foil and cook for another 15 minutes or so, until the exposed chicken skin is slightly crisped.
Transfer the chicken to a large platter, search out and discard the chile, and skim any of the fat you can easily get to from the sauce.
Top the chicken with the sauce and serve over rice (I used my fave Vigo’s yellow rice).
Top with slivered almonds and freshly chopped parsley.
Most certainly captain-worthy.