—Mrs. Mary Randolph. Washington, January, 1831
The Virginia Housewife or, Methodical Cook, published in 1836
Since this week we celebrate the 1st Anniversary of Foodie Friday, I thought I would post something a bit different and very special. All of us are obviously food fanatics and share a passion for recipes and for sharing our favorites. Earlier this month, Leah @ Who Moved My Cheese Straw posted a recipe for Country Captain Chicken and I became fascinated when I read that it was associated with early Georgia cooks. As I am in the midst of preparing to move back to Georgia, the State where I was born and the land of my ancestors, I decided I would do a bit more research on its origin.
In her book What's Cooking America, Linda Stradley writes, "This delicious dish, known through Georgia, dates to the early 1800s. It is thought that this dish was brought to Georgia by a British sea captain who had been stationed in Bengali, India and shared the recipe with some friends in the port city of Savannah, Georgia. Savannah was then a major shipping port for the spice trade. The dish was named for the officers in India called Country Captains."
In the 1940s, Franklin D. Roosevelt and George S. Patten dined on this dish at Warm Springs, Georgia and an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay proves this classic Southern dish is as popular today as it was back in the day.
The glossary at What's Cooking America describes this dish as, "A curried chicken dish. The chicken is browned and then stewed in a sauce of tomatoes, onion, garlic, and curry powder. At the end, golden raisins are added. The dish is served over rice sprinkled with toasted almonds. As with all chicken recipes in the South, Country Captain Chicken varies with the cook. Some recipes call for a long cooking time and other use quick-cooking chicken breasts. One thing is always certain about this dish; it is perfumed and slightly spiced with curry."
When I discovered that it dated to the early 1800s, I decided I would search through my collection of digital vintage cookbooks and see if the recipe showed up there. That is where I found the above quote from Mrs. Randolph and where I discovered what may well be the earliest version of this dish in America.
To Make A Dish of Curry After The East Indian Manner
Cut two chickens as for fricassee, wash them clean, and put them in a stew pan with as much water as will cover them; sprinkle them with a large spoonful of salt, and let them boil till tender, covered close all the time, and skim them well; when boiled enough, take up the chickens, and put the liquor of them into a pan, then put half a pound of fresh butter in the pan, and brown it a little; put into it two cloves of garlic, and a large onion sliced, and let these all fry till brown, often shaking the pan; then put in the chickens, and sprinkle over them two or three spoonsful of curry powder; then cover the pan close, and let the chickens do till brown, often shaking the pan; then put in the liquor the chickens were boiled in, and let all stew till tender, if acid is agreeable, squeeze the juice of a lemon or orange in it.
Dish of Rice To Be Served Up With The Curry, In A Dish By Itself
Take half a pound of rice, wash it clean in salt and water—then put it into two quarts of boiling water, and boil it briskly twenty minutes; strain it through a colander and shake it into a dish, but do not touch it with your fingers nor with a spoon.
Beef, veal, mutton, rabbits, fish, &c. may be curried and sent to table with or without the dish of rice.
Curry powder is used as a fine flavoured seasoning for fish, fowls, steaks, chops, veal cutlets, hashes, minces, alamodes, turtle soup, and in all rich dishes, gravies, sauce, &c. &c.
As I said, this dish was featured on Throwdown With Bobby and the challenger was the Lee Brothers. You can find their recipes by clicking on the captions below the photos:
Leah came up with what she calls a "simple and very yummy version that I think you'll like." I tend to agree, it looks delicious and I know I'll be trying it once I get settled in to my new home.
I also believe I'll try the recipe from 1836, in honor of all those early American cooks who were also foodies and passed their love of cooking and swapping recipes on to us.
Happy Foodie Friday Anniversary
to everyone, especially our lovely hostess
whose passion for food and tablescapes has brought us all together today!