coronel Rústico

Country Captain is a chicken recipe that appears in a number of cookbooks, and was even the subject of a Bobby Flay “Throw down” on the Food Network. In its basic form it is a mild stew made with browned chicken pieces, onions, curry powder, golden raisins, and nuts. There are dozens of versions of it, however. Many of these add such ingredients as tomatoes, garlic, and bell peppers. The dish is traditionally served over white rice.

Nobody really knows the origin of Country Captain, but according to many it came from Savannah, GA in the mid-1800s and was named for a British officer who brought the recipe back from his station in India.

My recipe is an amalgamation of many sources into a New Mexico style dish, whose promotion in rank from Captain to Coronel* is consistent with its elevation in richness and spiciness, and its reduction in fat, salt, and carbohydrates. For consistency, Country is translated also, to Rústico, meaning “country style”.

  • 6 slices bacon, nuked and in bits
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • <salt> and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin off
  • 2 tbsp unsalted <butter>
  • 1 oz olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large Poblano chile, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
  • ½ jalapeño chile, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp New Mexico ground red chile
  • ½ tsp ground cayenne chile
  • ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1½ tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 2 tsp <sugar>
  • 1/3 cup Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 4 oz slivered almonds, lightly toasted

Prepare bacon in microwave as per User Guide and Notes , and break into bits.

Put the flour in a one-gallon plastic bag and season liberally with <salt> and pepper. Toss the chicken in the flour and tap off any excess. Sear the chicken on both sides in <butter> and oil in a sauté pan until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined 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 jalapeño and cook for 1 additional minute.

Stir in the herbs and spices and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine, chicken stock, tomatoes, raisins, thyme, and <sugar> and then bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid is reduced in volume by half.

Transfer the sauté pan contents into an oven pan, add the chicken, cover, and bake at 325°F for 35 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to bake an additional 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a platter and keep warm. Transfer the oven pan contents back into the sauté pan, raise to high heat, bring to a boil, let reduce slightly, correct the seasonings, and stir in the parsley. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and top with the bacon, almonds, and springs of parsley.

Serves: 8 (1 piece of chicken each)