Our Southern Curry

This typically fussy vintage recipe for Country Captain comes from Winifred Green Cheney’s wonderful Southern Hospitality Cookbook (1976).

Winifred informs us that she copied it from Mildred Williams, food columnist for a Virginia newspaper, but the original recipe came from Mrs. W. L. Bullard of Warms Springs, Georgia, who often served her famous dish to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“And once, when there wasn’t time for General George Patton to stay for dinner, he is said to have wired Mrs. Bullard to have the Country Captain waiting for him in a tin bucket at the train.”

2 frying-size chickens
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 clove garlic, chopped
1⁄2 cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 bell pepper, sliced
4 3/4 cups canned tomatoes
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon powdered thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄2 cup water
1 cup seedless raisins
2 1⁄2 cup toasted almonds
Melted butter
2 cups hot cooked rice
Fresh parsley (optional)

Cut chicken into frying-size pieces; split the breast, separate leg and thigh, and use the wings. Save bony pieces for stew. Flour chicken by shaking in a paper bag containing flour, salt, black pepper, and paprika. Make garlic oil by adding chopped garlic to olive oil and letting it stand until flavor is absorbed from garlic. Use 1⁄2 cup of hot garlic oil to brown chicken on both sides in a large skillet over high heat, turning pieces often so that it is golden but not dark.

Remove chicken to roaster and cover. Add onion and bell pepper to drippings in skillet; cook over medium heat until they are limp but not brown, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes, parsley, curry, thyme, and cayenne pepper; cook slowly about 5 minutes until blended. Pour over chicken, rinsing out skillet with water.

Cover and bake chicken in a preheated 325° oven for 45 minutes or until chicken is tender. Add raisins the last 15 minutes of cooking. Split blanched almonds in halves; brown lightly in a little melted butter. Arrange chicken in center of a large heated platter, pour sauce over it and pile cooked rice around edges. Sprinkle toasted almonds on top and garnish with fresh parsley, if desired. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.