Tuesday, 9 February 2010

He Said Captain, I Said Wot.

Ok, here's the deal. I don't know a lot about the South. The United States' South, to be exact.
We were watching Bobby Flay's Throwdown the other night and he went up against the Lee brothers in a Country Captain throwdown. What is a Country Captain? Curry is a signature Southern ingredient? Who is this Captain anyway? I had no idea. These things remain great mysteries to me. But I knew it looked good and I knew I wanted to eat it.
In the show, the dish looked to me like a cross between chicken cacciatore and curried chicken. I happen to love both those things so how can I go wrong?
Either way, it looked delicious so I grabbed the recipe (Bobby's) and gathered the ingredients.

Ok, if you are a total goof like me, this dish has put this song in your head. If not, well, it's in there now!

What a delicious dish! The chicken was tender like butter, the flavours just worked. A great family meal, pretty much a winner for every palate. And it really did taste like a cross between chicken cacciatore and a mild chicken curry - with all sorts of fabulous toppings on it. Most importantly it just tasted delicious.

If anyone could shed some light on the origin of this dish, and who exactly the Captain was, I would be quite interested in finding out. Meanwhile, I have some leftovers in the fridge if you care for a midnight snack.

Throwdown's Country Captain Chicken
Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay

Show: Throwdown with Bobby Flay
Episode: Country Captain Chicken


Curry Mix:
3 tablespoons ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground fennel
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground chili de arbol (I used cayenne)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Coconut Rice with Green Onions:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely diced Spanish onion
2 cups long-grain rice
1 (13-14 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 green onions, thinly sliced

Country Captain Chicken:
2 teaspoons canola oil
6 slices bacon, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1 medium Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large bell pepper, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 serrano chile, finely diced
2 heaping teaspoons Mesa curry mix, recipe above
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups homemade chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, drained well and coarsely chopped
Scant 1/4 cup currants or raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
Slivered almonds, lightly toasted and chopped

For the curry mix:
Combine all the spices in a small bowl.

For the coconut rice with green onions:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains in the butter. Add the coconut milk, water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stir once, cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until tender, about 16 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let the rice sit, covered for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork and fold in the green onion. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
For the country captain chicken:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large, high sided saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until golden brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Add the butter and 1 tablespoon of canola to the rendered bacon fat in the pan and heat until it begins to shimmer.

Put the flour in a shallow bowl and season liberally with salt and pepper. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper, dredge in the flour and tap off any excess. Sear the chicken on both sides until golden brown. Remove to plate.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the serrano and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until reduced by 3/4. Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and reduce slightly. Stir in the tomatoes, currants or raisins, thyme, 2 teaspoons of honey and season with a little salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Nestle the chicken thighs into the pan, cover with a tight fitting lid and bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Remove the lid after 35 minutes and continue to bake an additional 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a platter and tent slightly to keep warm. Put the pan and sauce back on the burner over high heat and bring to a boil. Let the sauce reduce slightly, then season with salt, pepper, and honey, to taste. Stir in the parsley. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and top with the bacon, almonds and more parsley. Serve with Coconut Rice with Green Onions.
I am falling further and further in love with Bobby's recipes. They have all been winners for me so far - the man knows bold flavour. Do make his homemade Mesa curry seasoning, it is very different than grocery store curry powder. And the toppings are inspired, they totally make the dish. What fun!
This is definitely a family friendly meal.