Saturday, February 21, 2009

Country Captain

There is an interesting story behind tonight's meal of Country Captain. It is a recipe that originated in either Charleston, South Carolina or Savannah, Georgia. Little question that it is a prime dish in that area of the coastal lowlands. It's also said to have been a favorite meal of Franklin Roosevelt and George Patton when they were in that area.

It is chicken thighs lightly floured and then browned in oil and butter. The thighs were removed and the grease drained, and two strips of bacon were added to the skillet until brown and crispy. The bacon was removed and onions, celery, bell peppers, red currants, and curry powder were added to the bacon drippings and sauteed until they begin to soften. When the veggies were just softening a can of crushed tomatoes was added and the whole thing reduced for about 15 minutes.

A layer of sauce was ladled into a casserole, topped by the chicken thighs, then the rest of the sauce. The whole thing was covered in foil and baked for half an hour. The foil was removed and the casserole baked an additional 15 minutes. The chicken was served with white rice and topped with the crumbled bacon and some toasted almonds.

The onions, chicken, curry and currants gave the dish a distinct aroma of earthiness and warmth. The peppers added a fresh green taste and the bacon added some smokiness.

We opened two wines, a 2005 Guigal Cotes du Rhone and a 2007 Koonowla Clare Valley Riesling from Australia. The Cote du Rhone and the curry definitely didn't care for each other though the fruit component was nice in the wine. The Riesling was just amazing with the dish.

The wine smelled of lime peel and lime juice, kerosene and white, spring flowers. There was some great acidity and an oiliness in the mouthfeel that reminded me of a well made Viogner. The lime and some barely ripe peaches and apples were in the taste with just little traces of the kerosene peeking through to make things interesting. It stood up well to the curry and the bell peppers and cleaned the palate between bites of the chicken. A very, very good wine by itself, it was almost perfect with the Country Captain.

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