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Country Captain's Chicken

Country Captain's Chicken

Amanda Haas
I thought my grandmother was the only one who knew about this recipe. Then I discovered its rich tradition in American history through Marion Cunningham, the author who completely revised and updated the classic Fannie Farmer Cookbook. The dish was created by people who settled in the Charleston-Savannah area of South Carolina, including people of Indian, Asian, and French descent (hence the addition of curry powder). The balance of sweet, salty, and spicy is phenomenal. If you are sensitive to nightshades, omit the tomato paste and diced tomatoes.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 10 mins


  • One 4-5 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional if nightshade-sensitive)
  • One 28-oz can diced tomatoes (optional if nightshade-sensitive)
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley


  • Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry thoroughly. Season with salt.
  • In a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until just smoking. Working in batches, sear the chicken until well browned on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes per batch.
  • Transfer the chicken to a platter and pour off all but 2 Tbsp of the accumulated fat. (If the bottom of the pot is scorched, discard the oil, wipe it clean, and add another 2 Tbsp oil.)
  • Turn the heat to medium and add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the curry powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and tomato paste (if using) and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes with their juices (if using), chicken stock, an raisins and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot to remove all of the caramelized bits.
  • Nestle the chicken into the pot, cover, and turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer until chicken thighs are fork-tender, about 45 minutes.
  • Transfer the chicken to a platter, turn the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced slightly, 5 to 7 minutes. Taste, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Stir the toasted almonds into the brown rice. Spoon on plates, and top with the chicken and sauce. Finish with the parsley. Serve immediately.


Make it ahead 
Preparing this braise a day or two in advance will only enhance the flavors, making it the ideal dish for company or a wonderful make-ahead meal for a weeknight dinner. Once it cools, store is covered in the refrigerator in the pot you cooked it in. When it's time to reheat, place the covered Dutch oven over low heat. Stir after a few minutes, then cook until the meat is just warmed through, about 10 minutes. 
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