Grandma Utley's Country Captain Chicken

December  3, 2019
15 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Grandma Utley's Country Captain Chicken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • Salt and pepper, for seasoning
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease or butter
  • 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, plus a few leaves for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 pound slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons dried currants
  • 2 cups cooked rice, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Once oil is hot, fry the chicken pieces, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and place on a plate, then tent with foil. Wipe Dutch oven clean.
  3. Return Dutch oven to stove over medium heat. Melt bacon grease (or butter). Add onion, pepper, and garlic and cook until softened and starting to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt, white pepper, curry powder, parsley, and thyme and simmer for 5 more minutes. Return the chicken pieces to the Dutch oven and nestle down into sauce, spooning sauce over all of the pieces.
  4. Using the lid as a guide, trace and cut out a circle of brown paper. Place the paper over top of the chicken and cover pot with the lid. Put pot into oven and cook for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove pot from oven. Carefully remove the chicken pieces from the pot and place them in the center of a large platter. Stir the almonds and dried currants into the sauce. Spoon the rice around the rim of the platter surrounding the chicken. Pour the sauce over the chicken and rice. Garnish with parsley and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Merla Parker
    Merla Parker
  • Miche
  • Fiona Garratt
    Fiona Garratt
  • Erin Byers Murray
    Erin Byers Murray

43 Reviews

Isaiah W. May 8, 2022
This is a very satisfying recipe. The chicken turned out beautifully juicy and flavorful. Enough spice to be a little surprising but not so much as to turn off the spicy-averse among us. The slivered almonds add a nice crunch. A totally solid option for a Saturday or Sunday night dinner that you don’t need to think too hard about.
Merla P. February 26, 2020
This was delicious! I used 3 pounds of chicken thighs! It did seem to have an over abundance of sauce though! Did anyone else find that? Perhaps 2 tins is too much?
Margaret M. February 19, 2020
This recipe sounds great and I plan to make it — can someone explain the purpose of the brown paper?
Erin B. February 19, 2020
Similar to using parchment while braising, the paper helps lock in the moisture while it cooks. I highly recommend using parchment!
robin February 18, 2020
I made this last night and it is absolutely fabulous. I followed the recipe to the T. My husband raved with "damn that's good" and "you hit it out of the park with this one". Needless to say, I will make it a staple in my recipe repertoire!
Erin B. February 19, 2020
I love hearing that! Thanks for giving it a try!
Woozie February 17, 2020
Having now read the recipe, that calls for white pepper, I am wondering why the photo shows black pepper spilled on the table top with its flaking (lead?) paint. Yuck!
LillyBelle February 27, 2020
Seriously? Get a life.
1Hawaii February 17, 2020
What kind of curry powder?
Jenny February 17, 2020
I love Penzy's "Now Curry Powder". I do sometimes add extra chipotle. Their constant political opinionating is annoying, but their herbs and spices are great and after decades as a customer I live with it.
Gammy February 17, 2020
Check out The Spice House. The owners are part of the Penzey clan and they have great fresh spices, too. In addition they have a new Flatpack refill system. Each Flatpack contains the same quantity of spice (1/2 cup) as a jar, and they don't change for postage, no matter if you purchase one spice Flatpack or $50/worth.
Jenny February 18, 2020
I have also purchased from Spice House, and like them very much. Didn't know they had a connection with Penzy's … interesting.
Miche February 16, 2020
Of course one can adapt. I just wish that smaller chickens (and chicken parts) were available; and since they rarely are, that food writers would wise up.
Erin B. February 17, 2020
Thank you, Miche - this is really helpful feedback! I have found 3- 3.5-lb chickens at my local store but I completely see where you're coming from. I'll be considering that next time.
Miche February 16, 2020
Why do food writers still share recipes for 3 lb chickens? Your grandmother might have cooked them on the regular, but nowadays it's difficult to find one under five pounds, and impossible to find under 4 lbs.
Fiona G. February 16, 2020
Joint the chicken, freeze surplus for another time?
rosecedar February 16, 2020
Totally agree!! I don't get it either. I cannot find chickens under 5 pounds anywhere, and I ignore most recipes that call for them, fearing poor results and wasted time and money.
Donald February 16, 2020
Is it so hard to buy 3 pounds of chicken parts? I usually stick to thighs with Braised recipes so I'll buy 3 pounds of chicken thighs. No recipes skipped. Crisis solved!
rosecedar February 16, 2020
Yes, of course are right. But my comment was not about this particular recipe. Many recipes involve cooking a chicken whole. Those are the ones I find to be problematic when they call for a chicken weighing under 4 pounds.
Jenny February 17, 2020
Chicken thighs are great...but it IS possible to get "real" sized chicken at about 4 lbs. I am able to buy farm-to-table from several sources in my area...NW New Jersey. Local, pasture raised chickens are not cheap...but they have real flavor and real dark meat. The fat is golden and soft, not white and crack-off hard on broth. Expensive, I do eat less meat as a result, but appreciate it more.
Gammy February 17, 2020
3-4 pound chickens ARE still out there, but usually not in a regular grocery store although I have found that sometimes you can find Springer Mountain brand chickens that are under 4 pounds. A butcher shop might also carry smaller chickens. I am a fanatic about getting smaller chickens. Used to be there were 2 sizes available in every store, the "broiler" (this was your typical 2.5-3.5 chicken) and the "roaster" (the older, much larger ones). Now sometimes I can't even find a WHOLE bird at my local store.... Publix, looking at you!
dgoanne February 16, 2020
This looks fantastic. Question: what purpose do you think the brown paper [bag] served?? Thanks!
Erin B. February 16, 2020
I think it's for the same reason you would use parchment paper in a braising recipe - it helps lock in the moisture!
a S. February 16, 2020
Can you use parchment instead?
Donald February 16, 2020
Yes, I'm certain. That's the French way.
Fiona G. February 15, 2020
Nearly the same as a recipe which my mother used to make, and which is still a firm family favorite!
The main difference is that she added the currants while the rest of it's cooking, and just added toasted flaked almonds at the end.
I'm making it tonight (mother's recipe) and am experimenting with cooking it in the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours.
Erin B. February 16, 2020
I'd love to hear how it goes in the crock pot! I might try adding the currants to the sauce earlier too.
Fiona G. February 16, 2020
It worked out just fine! I browned the chicken, took that out of the pan, then did the onion/peppers/garlic in the same pan, then stirred in the curry powder.
I tipped the veg mixture into the base of the crockpot, then tipped over the tomatoes and lightly stirred in the currants.
I nestled the browned chicken pieces over the top of that (I didn't submerge them). Cooked on low for about 8 hours.
Having it tonight, with plain white rice.
I like to toast the almonds in butter on the hob at the last minute, and sprinkle those over whilst they're still sizzling.
Fiona G. February 15, 2020
Nearly the same as a recipe which my mother used to make, and which is still a firm family favorite!
The main difference is that she added the currants while the rest of it's cooking, and just added toasted flaked almonds at the end.
I'm making it tonight (mother's recipe) and am experimenting with cooking it in the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours.
Donald February 16, 2020
I was thinking I'd add them before the end too, at least 30 minutes before serving. That way they'd plump up nicely instead of remaining chewy bits.
eweideman January 13, 2020
This recipe was perfect for a dinner with my friends. I used chicken thighs because that's what I had on hand and it was delicious!
Jenny January 13, 2020
and when all was done...I was left with a small amount of sauce, which I used to make myself a breakfast of Eggs in Purgatory...delish...
Jenny December 20, 2019
Ooo...this sounds good. Everything is ice covered and the Winter Solistice is tomorrow. I'm pulling a free range chicken out of the freezer to cook and celebrate brighter days coming.
Erin B. December 21, 2019
That sounds like the perfect way to honor the day. Let me know how it goes!
Jenny January 4, 2020
Great recipe! In honor of the solar event...I used a small green pepper (for Spring) and a small orange pepper (for the Sun). Totally delish. As I was short on rice for leftovers, I added in about 50% French green lentils. Even better...I LOVE lentils. This is likely now a tradition for the Solstice in my kitchen! But, not like I will not cook it at other times. I did use parchment, and I think it confines the braising area and helps intensify the melding of flavors. It was new to me, but I think that it works!
Erin B. January 7, 2020
Oh, I love the idea of lentils! So glad you enjoyed it and made it your own.
Mitwocents December 16, 2019
But what about the brown paper?
Erin B. December 18, 2019
I did use it in this recipe - but you can also use parchment cut to fit the size of the pot you're cooking in.
Mitwocents December 18, 2019
Thanks. I like the idea of using parchment paper much better. These days, brown paper bags may or may not have been sprayed with preservatives etc. Great tip!
Carolyn February 16, 2020
these days our brown grocery bags have more chemicals in from the recycling than they had when it was popular to use them for roasting whole turkeys in and the like. It is absolutely NOT recommended to use brown grocery bags anymore for direct contact with cooking. Parchment is much better in this case.
Erin B. February 16, 2020
Thanks Carolyn - I think you're right. I was trying to stay true to my grandmother's recipe but parchment is definitely the way to go these days!
Fiona G. February 16, 2020
Here's my mother's recipe, if you're interested. She said she got it from Teddy Roosevelt's cook - which may well have been true.
Chicken portions
2 onions
2 peppers (pref green)
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp currants
2 tins tomatoes
Flaked toasted almonds

Brown chicken pieces in oil. Remove and keep warm. Chop onions and peppers (coarsely) and crush garlic. Soften onions, add peppers and cook for ~ 5 minutes. Add crushed garlic and cook for ~ 2-3 minutes. Add curry powder and stir. Add tomatoes and currants and bring to boil. Replace chicken pieces. Simmer till chicken very tender and falling off the bones. Finish with toasted almonds.
Serve with plain boiled rice.
Merla P. February 26, 2020
What size tin for the tomatoes?