Recipes » Main Dish Recipes » Chicken Country Captain

Chicken Country Captain

A very old Southern recipe with Indian influences.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chicken Country Captain is a true old South classic. Chicken, onions, garlic, peppers and curry powder with raisins and toasted almonds. https://www.lanascooking.com/chicken-country-captain/

Chicken Country Captain is a true old South classic. Chicken, onions, garlic, peppers, and curry powder with raisins and toasted almonds.

It’s really hard to beat the classics. And this Chicken Country Captain is a true old South classic recipe. When I tweeted last week that I was making it, I got a response back from a blogging friend saying “You ARE going old-school!” Yes, ma’am. I sure did. And I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Chicken Country Captain is a true old South classic. Chicken, onions, garlic, peppers and curry powder with raisins and toasted almonds. https://www.lanascooking.com/chicken-country-captain/

I’m sure it has been at least thirty years since I had the dish known throughout the South as Chicken Country Captain. Of course, there are a few different versions, but whichever recipe you use, they all contain onion, bell pepper, garlic, curry powder and either raisins or currants.

Since I cannot find currants anywhere within reasonable driving distance of my house, I used raisins. Even though raisins start life as grapes and currants are actually berries, I don’t think it makes a lot of difference in the taste of the final dish.

Craig Claiborne – Southern Cook Extraordinaire

The recipe I’m sharing with you today, with slight adaptations, is Craig Claiborne‘s Country Captain recipe from his wonderful cookbook, Southern Cooking. Mr. Claiborne was a nationally known food writer for The New York Times and author of many cookbooks. He was born and raised in Mississippi and had a lifelong association with southern cooking having learned the fundamentals in the kitchen of his mother’s boardinghouse.

If you love southern cuisine and don’t already have a copy of Southern Cooking, please try to find one straight away. Every recipe in it is familiar to me from my own experience with southern cooking and the stories of Mr. Claiborne’s growing up and learning to cook are just priceless.

Regarding Country Captain, Mr. Claiborne says:

“No one knows precisely the origin of the dish known throughout Georgia and much of the South as country captain. The theory is that it was introduced to the port of Savannah by the captain of a vessel that plied the spice route from India in the early 1800s.”

Makes sense to me. The combination of curry with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and garlic could easily have come from that part of the world.

How to Make Chicken Country Captain

Raisins soaking in water in a small bowl.

Put the raisins into a small bowl with enough very hot water to cover them completely. Let them sit in the hot water and get nice and plump while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

Chicken pieces coated with salt and pepper.

Prepare the chicken by salting and peppering it very well on both sides. Dredge it in flour and shake off the excess.

Chicken browning in a skillet.

Now, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter along with the oil in a skillet large enough to fit all the chicken in a single layer. Brown the chicken on all sides. Remove it and set it aside.

Photo collage illustrating the cooking of the vegetables and sauce.

Pour out the cooking oil and wipe the skillet. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the onion, green peppers, garlic and curry powder.

Cook and stir the mixture until the vegetables are wilted. Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture up to the boil and add the chicken pieces back to the pan. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 20 minutes.

Adding the raisins to the finished recipe.

When the chicken is cooked through, drain the raisins and add them to the skillet.

Serve with cooked white or saffron rice, toasted almonds, and chutney (if desired) on the side.

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Finished chicken country captain in a serving bowl.

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Chicken Country Captain is a true old South classic. Chicken, onions, garlic, peppers and curry powder with raisins and toasted almonds. https://www.lanascooking.com/chicken-country-captain/

Chicken Country Captain

A very old Southern recipe with Indian influences.
5 from 3 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Southern, Vintage
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 400kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 frying chicken (about 3 pounds, cut into serving pieces)
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons butter divided
  • 2 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes chopped

For serving:

  • Cooked rice
  • Toasted silvered almonds
  • Chutney optional

Instructions

  • Put the raisins into a small bowl with very hot water to cover. Let stand while preparing the rest of the recipe.
  • Salt and pepper the chicken well on both sides. Dredge in flour shaking off excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and oil in a skillet large enough to fit all the chicken in a single layer. Brown the chicken on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  • Pour out the cooking oil and wipe the skillet. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the onion, green peppers, garlic and curry powder. Cook and stir until the vegetables are wilted. Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture up to the boil and add the chicken pieces. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 20 minutes. Drain the raisins and add them to the skillet.
  • Serve with cooked white or saffron rice, toasted almonds and chutney (if desired) on the side.

Notes

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 201mg | Potassium: 510mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 501IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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27 Comments

  1. Hi! Lana. i like your article “chicken country captain”. I will try it as soon as possible.
    This is amazing and a different recipe and looks too sopecial.
    Thanks.

  2. I’ve been making a version of this dish for almost fifty years but it has been a couple of years since I’ve made it. My husband loves it! So I guess better get with it. Thank you for the reminder.

  3. Oh my goodness, your Chicken Country Captain just took my breath away and makes me want to go to the kitchen right now to get cooking. Your recipe sounds a lot like a dish my mom used to make for us when I was growing up. I must try yours. Glad I found the link to your delightful blog via Monica Bhide today. Thanks for sharing!

  4. This recipe looks and sounds great. However, like a few other bloggers I would have to leave out the raisins or currants. Can anyone think of a substitute for these? Everything looks like it would make a great vegetable dish. Thank you.

    1. Hi Susan, you could just leave out the raisins/currants and not substitute anything. It wouldn’t be true country captain, but it would still be a fantastic chicken dish.

  5. FYI – currants in this case are a kind of dried grape, just like raisins and sultanas.

    The kind that are berries come prefixed with ‘black’, ‘red’, ‘white’ etc.

  6. Hi Lana!
    I made this last night and it turned out perfect!
    So good……so easy.
    I’m going to send you a box of currants! Can’t have you going without lol

    1. I’m so glad you made it and enjoyed it, Teri. Please do send the currants – we can’t get them anywhere around here!

  7. I’m happy to say after seeing this wonderful dish, I did some searching, and found a used, hardcover copy of Craig Claiborne’s Southern Cooking, on amazon Canada for $2.12. I certainly lucked out on the cost of the book as the next copy on the list, was almost $30. Many thanks for the heads up on the cookbook Lana!
    I’m looking forward to reading about & trying, the rest of the dishes you love so much!

    1. What a bargain, Jocelyn! If you enjoy southern food or are a fan of Craig Claiborne you’re going to really love that cookbook.

  8. well if, govenors, presidents, chefs, sea captains like it, this thing must be pretty tasty – actually, I have had this a few times, not a good sounding as your recipe…. I think most folks try to over-spice it….

  9. This was one of President F D Roosevelt’s favorite. The cook at his house in Warm Springs, GA was famous for it. It is featured in a recipe book that Mrs. George Busby published when her husband, George Busby was govenor of Georgia. I have never made it but know that it is a favorite among folks in this area of the country. I believe that it is usually served over rice. Looks wonderful.

  10. This looks wonderful, Lana. Never heard of it before but it looks perfect for the rainy and cold day we are having here today. Perfect comfort food dish I’m sure. Would you send some over?

    Pam

  11. Finally! This looks exactly like the country captain I used to get at Carr’s Steakhouse in Albany in the mid 80’s. It was so good. Since then, I have never seen it on a menu at a restaurant anywhere. You’ve inspired me to make it.

    1. Oh, my goodness! I haven’t thought about Carr’s in years. But didn’t they have the best menu!? Too bad it’s gone now along with so many great old places in Albany. Makes me sad.

  12. This looks great! All of the flavors layered in this look like they would compliment the chicken really well. I have never had this, so I’m just going to have to make it. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Never had it before, but saw it on TV one day and MM and I said we needed to try that! This looks like the perfect recipe to go with!!!!

  14. What a pretty dish! Okay, I will admit that I have never had chicken country captain, but it looks as though it’s a “must try”.

    1. Dara – though I’m not at all familiar with Indian cuisine, I believe this would be akin to a chicken curry. Probably came to this area with a ship sailing the spice route in the late 1700s-early 1800s.

  15. I got my Country Captain recipe from James Beard when I was in High School – 35+ years ago. Went to a demonstration he did as a Field Trip. I’d never heard of him before that – but it was a great excuse to miss school for a day so I signed up. He showed us how to cut up a whole chicken and gave us the Country Captain recipe. I had not idea it was a Southern ‘thing’….just very yummy. My family has enjoyed it for many years. I have to admit – I leave out the raisins/currants – love the peppers, onions and spices – but personally I’m not a fan of cooked raisins. If I’m making something I don’t want to be tempted to eat – I leave the raisins in…but if I want to enjoy it – the raisins stay out. That’s one of the great perks of being ‘the cook’ in our home. I think we need to have this again – soon!

    1. Shenna – I’m going to have to look up Mr. Beard’s recipe. I’m sure it must be wonderful. He never did anything that was less than fantastic!