Category Archives: Low(er) Carb

Wild Goose

Wild Goose

My husband has taken up waterfowl hunting, and he loves it.  He brings home at least one goose every time ventures out.  Unlike the geese in the grocery store, these come in slightly battered and scarred by shot.  Also, unlike farmed geese, these are “working geese”.  These aren’t farm animals standing around all day.  These are flying geese!   As a result, the meat tends to be a bit tough and there’s no awesome leftover goose fat.   His hunting buddies relayed to him that the goose legs and thighs were inedible and most of them just use the breast meat.  I determined that this was a personal challenge to me to see if I could make them edible.

About the same time, my wonderful friend Pam gave me a pressure cooker.  There are many kitchen appliances I have used, but a pressure cooker just isn’t one of them.  They’ve always intrigued me.  It’s the opposite of a slow cooker, but with the same result!  You want tender pot roast in an hour?  The pressure cooker is your device.  The price, however, is this slight, remote chance that there could be an explosion if something goes wrong with the cooker.   Besides burns and cuts, we can add explosions to the dangers of cooking!!

So, I thought this my fortuitous acquisition of a pressure cooker at the same time my husband started to come home with these tough little birds couldn’t be a coincidence.

A few years ago, I made a goose recipe from Epicurious.com with Armagnac and Prunes and it was amazing. I know, I know. Prunes. I get it.   But, the pressure cooker dissolves these suckers into nothing and they leave behind a slightly sweet and distinct taste. Really. It is good. No one will know you put prunes in this dish, they will just know it’s awesome. As mentioned above, this goose was too tough to roast outright, so I just could draw flavor inspiration from that recipe for this one.  The prunes and red wine were an amazing combination with the rich goose meat, so I used that part of the recipe to create this one.

The pressure cooker wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be.  I didn’t fill it up too high, made sure the steam was escaping and didn’t let the pressure get too high and we got this amazing goose dish!  The thighs and legs were completely tender, as was the breast.  Mission accomplished!!!  So, if you are faced with game meat, I would seriously consider a pressure cooker to make game meat tender and amazing!  This recipe was incredibly easy to execute!

As a disclaimer, please follow your own pressure cooker instructions to ensure the safe cooking of this dish.

Goose in Red Wine and Prunes
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 75 minutes

¼ cup duck or goose fat, or vegetable oil or clarified butter
1 onion, medium dice
1 cup of diced celery
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
8-10 prunes, sliced in half
1 cup full bodied red wine
1 cup water or chicken broth
1 Wild Goose (5-6 pounds), skinned and quartered (2 breasts, 2 leg quarters)

Heat duck fat in pressure cooker over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and cook until the onion is translucent. Add salt, pepper, thyme and prunes. Sauté for a minute. Add wine and chicken broth. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a pressure cooker, the alcohol does not boil off. Obviously, we need to do that before beginning to pressure cook the goose. Add the goose parts, legs first, breasts on top. Add the lid of the pressure cooker and, following your pressure cooker’s instructions, bring the pressure cooker to high pressure for 60 minutes. For my cooker, I need to lower the temperature to medium low to maintain a safe pressure level after the ideal pressure level is reached. At the end of the 60 minutes, remove from the heat and allow pressure cooker to cool until the lid can be safely removed.

Wild Goose

Hunted by my husband, butchered and skinned by me. Very primal.

Wild Goose

Pass the Prosciutto- Thanksgiving Stuffing Featuring Parma Ham

Pass the Prosciutto

Yes, you can make stuffing with no bread and have it look this awesome!

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There are few holidays that really excite me food-wise as Thanksgiving. First of all, you have the tradition. You can go full bore and serve exactly what the pilgrims ate, or you can do the modern classical Thanksgiving: Turkey, stuffing, various potatoes, token green veg, rolls and pumpkin pie. It’s a virtual carbohydrate bonanza! Over the years, however, various dietary needs have arisen and several beloved family members have been diagnosed with diabetes. The traditional Thanksgiving meal is a disaster for your typical diabetic. Instead of “going without”, I am all about making something equally good from more low carb friendly fare.

My most favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table is stuffing. As a kid, there was nothing better than the box of Stove Top Stuffing, amended with sausage and mushrooms and placed on the table. Nothing. Sure, I can laugh now, but back then, you angled to get a seat by the stuffing.  Stuffing by its very nature, however, is a high carb endeavor.

So, I started looking at all the stuffings from the yesteryear for inspiration.  Stuffings with sage or chestnuts or oysters! Oh my! So much to try. So I stumbled upon the recipe below quite by accident. I wanted a touch of richness, a bit of history, and a whole bunch of easy.  One of my go to ingredients when I’m looking for rich and clearly special is Prosciutto di Parma.  It gives a fantastic, complex, flavor without the excess, and rather random amount of fat and smoke that bacon brings.

Initially, I came up with a stuffing with sausage, chicken livers, oysters, prosciutto di parma, seasonings and bread crumbs. There wasn’t a single drop of stuffing left. Everyone ate every last bit and wanted more.  However, the carb count was likely crazy high.  So, I had to turn my focus to the low carb version.   Then, I got an assignment that asked me to concentrate on gluten free cooking that included the amazing Prosciutto di Parma, or parma ham. Could I adapt the my high carb, gluten riddled recipe recipe? Would it work? These questions kept me up at night.

First, my philosophy for low carb is not to make a thin imitation. While you’ll never convince me that pureed cauliflower is mashed potatoes, the dish is really quite good in its own right.   And, more importantly, I don’t miss the potatoes.   My goal for this dish was: good and you don’t miss the original.  How can you go wrong with Prosciutto di Parma, sausage and oysters.  Right?

Let me caution: this stuffing is full bodied and full fat. It’s a go big or go home type stuffing. Everyone who has tried this stuffing in either high carb or low carb form have raved about it. Some people have declined to try it due to the ingredients.   Chicken livers and oysters can lead some to take a pass. More for me, honestly.

The technique I use is really rather unique. I was making the stuffing and decided to take a short cut. I didn’t want whole oysters or pieces of chicken livers in my stuffing for texture reasons, so I figured I would just chop them for a bit in the processor, because, well, isn’t that what it’s for? I quickly learned there’s no level of “a bit” that doesn’t turn the livers or oysters into liquid. So, instead of minced shellfish or livers, I had a lovely red puree.  However, I wasn’t wasting my money by not using the livers or oysters, so I included them in the stuffing. Because these overtly odd ingredients didn’t appear in the stuffing, people were more inclined to try it. And, by extension, love it! Huzzah!  I just got back from Williamsburg, so that celebratory phrase stays!

So, dear reader, I am giving you my famous stuffing recipe. My kids cried that I was using a recipe from the secret family recipe book.  But I will share this one.  Kick the boxed stuffing habit and make your own stuffing.  It will be miles better than anything from a box.  You can make it ahead too! And, depending on the version below you choose, you can actually label this a vegetable side.  You’ll get the joke when you read the ingredients.

Sausage and Oyster Stuffing
Serves: Thanksgiving Crowd (10 or so, easily doubled if you need more)
Prep Time: 15-25 minutes, depending on version made
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

Note: Low carb/Gluten free version requires cooked cauliflower, see Cuban Rice and Beans for full prep instructions.

5 chicken livers
6 oysters, shucked
1/3 cup bacon drippings, lard or other high temperature suitable oil
1/2 pound Prosciutto (parma ham), medium dice
1 pound sage sausage
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sage, rubbed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Low Carb/Gluten Free Version:
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets, roasted at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes until soft and slightly brown, chopped fine

“Regular Version”:
4 cups bread crumbs (gluten free, if needed)

2 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place chicken livers and oysters in the container of the food processor and process thoroughly. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

Heat fat over medium heat in a large skillet. And prosciutto and sausage and cook until the sausage is cooked through and both are rendered of fat. Add the onions, celery and mushrooms and cook until the onions and celery are translucent and the mushrooms have lost some of their liquid. Add the garlic and saute until soft. Add the sage and liver mixture. Cook until the mixture is no longer reddish. Add the butter, cauliflower or bread crumbs, eggs and salt and pepper. Place in an oven dish, cover and refrigerate. To serve, heat in a 350 degree oven until the top is brown and the stuffing is warmed through.

Follow Parma Ham on Twitter for a chance to win $50 worth of the world’s most famous ham. Click on the banner below to participate. This post is a collaboration between the blogger and Parma Ham. 

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Pass the Prosciutto

Pass the Prosciutto

Pass the Prosciutto

Pass the Prosciutto

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Being a fairly low carb person, there are certain foods I desperately miss.   Would I love a plate of French Fries?  Yup.  Pizza?  You bet.  Stuffing?  Yes, a million times.  Crackers with my cheese?  Of course!  Bun with my hamburger?  Oy.

Mashed Potatoes?  Not really.  I’m not a potato fan, unless they are completely fried crisp. Then, ok!  I’m mostly in it for the crispy outside shell.  Steak fries?  Pass.  My husband, on the other hand is part Irish and LOVES potatoes.  He’s having to get extremely serious about being low carb because his lack of seriousness has had some health consequences.  So, he reluctantly joins the low carb bandwagon.

I had heard about fake mashed potatoes.  But honestly, the thought of cauliflower really didn’t appeal to me.  Sure, it’s beautiful when raw.  That’s about where my affinity ends.  I’ve used it as a rice substitute, but it’s pretty swamped with strong flavors and more there for filler.  In this recipe, cauliflower is the star.  The. Star.

I tried a ton of recipes and some lacked the heft or texture of mashed potatoes.  Some were just runny.  Others worked better, but really didn’t take advantage of the blank canvas.  I tried to up the flavor here and add really good texture as well.

Cauliflower is wet.  Very, very wet.  And in this recipe we steam it, adding more water to the process.  So, without something more, you’ll have a very thin mixture with just pureed cauliflower.  I used a combination of cream cheese and butter to really give the dish more substance.  I also could have roasted garlic and added it to the puree, but I liked the convenience of granulated garlic.  It added flavor without any additional moisture.

This recipe comes extremely close to garlic mashed potatoes.  My kids ate it up until I told them it wasn’t mashed potatoes, then it became a pariah on the plate.  But really, it stands on its own as a great dish.  No need to fool anyone, just say it’s pureed cauliflower.  Unless they are minors.  Then it’s mashed potatoes.  As an extra bonus, it’s mashed potatoes that are quicker and easier to make then real mashed potatoes!

Your mileage my vary on this dish.  I used 1 really large head of cauliflower.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4-6, as a side dish
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 large head of cauliflower, heavy stalks removed, cut into florets
3 tablespoons of cream cheese, divided
3 tablespoons of butter, divided (I used European Style, which has more fat content)
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic, divided
Salt and Pepper

Steam cauliflower until soft. I used a steamer insert and placed it over boiling water and it took about 13 minutes.

Place one third of the cauliflower into a food processor (if yours can take more, great, mine couldn’t). Add 1 tablespoon cream cheese, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic to the food processor. Puree until the consistency desired and there are no remaining chunks of cauliflower. Place in a serving bowl and cover. Repeat process until the cauliflower is all pureed. Salt and Pepper to taste and serve.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Buffalo Hot Wings

Mild and Hot Wings, ready for dipping!

Mild and Hot Wings, ready for dipping!

I am not a fan of spicy foods.   I especially loathe the race to ever spicier foods.  Whole shows dedicated to making people eat foods that will likely lead to those foods making a return appearance later in the show, well, seem stupid.

Food is to be enjoyed.  Not designed to tear a hole in your stomach.

Which brings me to hot wings.  Buffalo hot wings.  Simple.   The origin story involves spare, cheap parts being repurposed for a quick meal.    Fast forward a few decades and now these cheap parts, the chicken wings, are actually quite a bit more expensive than the chicken thighs!!  Given the meat to bone ratio, the price for wings is rather ridiculous.  However, the idea of buffalo thighs is just an anathema.  Sacrilege!  So, I shall pay the outrageous price as an homage to tradition.  Granted, it’s a rather recent tradition, but tradition nonetheless.

Most hot sauces have lots of vinegar to punctuate the sensation of eating a hot food.  So, I figured why not use the same enhancement on my wings?  There are rumors a certain chicken fast food restaurant marinates their chicken in a pickle brine.  As luck would have it, I actually had some.  We love Clausen’s Dill Pickles.  They are crisp, not too tart, with the perfect level of dill.  After we recently finished a large, warehouse sized container of said pickles, I had a ton of pickle brine sitting around.  Since the price was right, and I wanted to try this technique, this brine served as my marinade.

The result?  Tender wings with a really complex flavor profile.  They didn’t taste like pickles, which was no small concern, but you could tell the influence of the brine was there.   My husband’s smoking hot wings were made more intense and my milder wings were really great without being crazy hot.

I would totally make this again.  It’s easy.  Cheaper than take out wings, and definitely better!

Buffalo Hot Wings, half really, really spicy, half “normal” spicy.
Serves: A Crowd
Prep Time: 2-3 hours (marinating)
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes

Wing Base

2 1/2 – 3 pounds chicken wings
Brine from 80 ounce package of Clausen’s Pickles

Add chicken wings to a closable plastic freezer bag. Pour brine into freezer bag, careful not to overfill. Close bag and marinate in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Preheat Oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit

Super Hot Wings Sauce
4 Tablespoons melted bacon drippings, lard, or vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons cayenne
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons salt

Combine well melted or liquid fat and spices, divide into two portions, three quarters and one quarter (reserved). In a small bowl, place three quarters of the liquid and half of the chicken wings. Toss wings with sauce. Alternatively, you could brush the sauce directly on the wings. Place a grate on a half sheet pan to elevate the wings. Place wings on grate.

Regular Hot Wings Sauce
1/3rd cup melted Ghee or clarified butter or vegetable oil
1/3rd cup favorite Hot Sauce

Combine well melted butter or ghee and hot sauce, divide into two portions, three quarters and one quarter (reserved). In a small bowl, place three quarters of the liquid and half of the chicken wings. Toss wings with sauce. Alternatively, you could brush the sauce directly on the wings individually.  Place wings on grate, next to spicy wings.

Bake wings for 25-30 minutes until completely cooked through, turning once during the cook time. At the end of the cooking, lightly brush the remaining sauce on the wings.

Serve with blue cheese dressing and any other accompaniments.

Buffalo Hot Wings

Had to see if they would all fit, which they did! Note the pickle brine pieces.

Buffalo Hot Wings

Buffalo Hot Wings

So spicy!!

Pulled Pork and Carnitas- Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

My husband and I work. We have two kids that like to do stuff. Our weeknight schedules are crazy and I have to tape (how old am I that I still use the word “tape”!!)  DVR The Daily Show and The Colbert Report because the thought of being awake at 11 o’clock is beyond hysterical.  I’m laughing right now, just imagining trying to stay up that late.  I really belong in the central time zone.  If it wasn’t for my DVR, I would not see any shows with a 10 o’clock start time.

More importantly, getting dinner on the table before 7 pm is a herculean effort.  Between arguing about doing homework, arguing about correcting homework, and actually making the meal, the night flies by really fast!  So, any shortcut I can find is greatly appreciated.

I was in a large warehouse store the other day picking up my month supply of paper towels and toilet paper and decided to pick up a Boston Butt, also known as pork shoulder.  At $1.69 a pound, it’s a hard bargain to pass up.  I realize that it’s not pastured or otherwise “green”, but as we eat that way most of the time, once in a while being cheap isn’t awful.  Being a warehouse club, I ended up with 14 pounds of the stuff.  No mean feat to cook this hunk of pork.

Now, I’m pretty reluctant to pull out my slow cooker due to less than optimal results and the fact that my daughter hates anything “saucy”.   I find pot roasts and chicken either turn out “dry” or mushy.   Let’s face it, once you remove “sauce” as an option for a dish made in a slow cooker, you pretty much remove the slow cooker as an option.  Except for this recipe.  You can really cook this pork rather plain in the slow cooker, and the pork stands up pretty well to a long cook time.  I put half the package (about 7 pounds) in the slow cooker.  The first night, we had “pulled pork”- my husband asked that I put the quotation marks, as the pork was not smoked.  Then two nights later, I repurposed the leftovers into carnitas.   Cook one piece of meat in the slow cooker, get two awesome meals on the table before 7 pm!!

I pulled no punches with the meat.  I made it pretty much as you would any piece of pork that you would put in the smoker.   I start with a light glaze of mustard and then heavily season with traditional barbecue spices, but I did add some spices that had been smoked- like smoked paprika.  I would normally leave that out of any seasoning mix to go on the smoker.  Here, to give it a more smokey feel, the meat needs, well, smoke.

For my second night, I placed all the meat on a cookie sheet and baked it in a fairly hot oven to make the meat a little more dry and the end bits a touch crispy.   In a few minutes, I had the perfect pork carnitas meat and I served the carnitas with the traditional toppings.  I can’t stress how easy this made dinner time for the week, especially in a week when my husband was working late most nights!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

5-7 Pound Boston Butt or Pork Shoulder Roast
1/4 cup yellow mustard (enough to cover meat)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dry mustard (love Coleman’s)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy!)
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 onion, roughly chopped
1/4 cup water

Cover the Boston Butt with a thin layer of yellow mustard. In a small bowl, combine all the spices and rub over the pork. Add the onion and the water to the slow cooker. Add the pork. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours.

Remove pork from slow cooker and pull apart with a couple of forks. Serve with Cole Slaw and barbecue sauce.  Seriously easy stuff!

Pork Carnitas

Pork Carnitas

Left over pulled pork
1/4 cup olive oil
Onions, cut into strips
Green peppers, cut into strips
Round tortillas, slightly warmed
Avocado, chopped
Salsa
Queso Fresca

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat oil over medium heat in a sauté pan.

While the oil is heating, spread pork in an even layer over a cookie sheet. Place in oven and cook until less moist with some crispy bits, about 15-20 minutes.

Sauté onions and peppers until slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Serve with your favorite toppings.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork and Carnitas

My best Jackson Pollock inspired work!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

When I came home, the house smelled amazing!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

So moist and ready to be pulled!!

Slightly dried and ready to go!

Slightly dried and ready to go!

Beef Shanks

Beef Shanks "osso bucco"

Have you ever walked by something in the store and just thought to yourself:  gotta cook that!!  It happened to me the other day.  Beef shanks.  Just look at them:

Beef Shanks

I couldn’t walk by these babies.  Awesome, meaty, lots of marrow.  If you eat meat, what’s not to love?    I looked at similar veal shanks and comparing $16.99 a pound for veal and $5.99 a pound for beef, well, that’s a no brainer.  Beef it was.  So, it’s not really Osso Buco, but it’s not far off.

My first time having osso buco was at Chiapparelli’s in Little Italy in Baltimore.  My sister had just graduated college and my parents took her out to celebrate.   Chiapparelli’s is a very old world Italian restaurant.  Dark and cozy and dripping with Italian charm. It was an amazing meal from beginning to end, but the osso buco was unforgettable.  When I began to learn how to cook, this was among my wish list items I wanted to learn how to make.

I wanted to be gluten free and lower carb, so I omitted the flour step.  Look, meat browns without flour.  I think this is kind of an antiquated step that everyone does just because it’s always been done.  So, I just salt and peppered these babies and browned them in my dutch oven.  No change difference in flavor.

See, they can brown without flour!

See, they can brown without flour!

 I know, somehow this little bit of flour is supposed to thicken the sauce.  I never find that to be the case.  I always have to add thickener or reduce forever anyway. Frankly, I don’t care if my sauce is thin or thick, I just care how it tastes.  And with this dish, the meat is so moist and tender, the sauce is really a bonus.  

Also, you may notice a distinct lack of gremolata that some recipes add.  First of all, I’m serving a 10 year old and an 8 year old.  I’m pushing it with beef shanks.  I’m not a fan of gremolata.   It’s not cheap, it adds a room temperature taste layer to a warm comforting dish that I just don’t see as necessary.  This dish is packed with flavor.

So, for a greatly reduced price, compared to the veal, I was able to make an amazing dinner that seems so fancy!  Yet, as you will see, so easy!

“Osso Buco” (or, Braised Beef Shanks)

Serves: 4 generously
Total Cook Time: 2 hours

1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and Pepper
4 beef shanks, about 3/4 lb-1 lb each
1 medium onion, medium dice
1 small carrot, medium dice
2 ribs of celery, medium dice
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup red wine (I used a zinfandel)
3 cups chicken stock or water
1 can cannellini beans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Liberally salt and pepper the shanks. Brown in batches in the dutch oven, about 3 minutes a side. Remove and set aside.

Turn the heat to medium. Add the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Sweat the vegetables until wilted, stirring the bottom of the pan to loosen any brown bits. Add the tomato paste and rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf to the vegetables. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the red wine, cook and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours. If you are using enamel cast iron, the lid should be heavy and tight enough to maintain moisture throughout cooking. If not, you may need to check the dish occasionally to make sure you have adequate liquid. 20 minutes before the end of the cook time, add the beans and stir to make sure they are submerged. Check salt and pepper levels prior to serving and adjust as needed.

Country Captain

Country Captain

As you know, I love a good food story.  Somehow it elevates the dish beyond a concoction of ingredients.   Country Captain is one of those dishes that you may be inclined to pass over in a cookbook.  It’s a fairly old recipe, but born during a time when the name of the dish wasn’t exactly descriptive.   What’s Country Captain?  It’s a chicken dish.  A really, really good chicken dish, adapted by British soldiers who had visited India and brought to the southern port of Savannah, Georgia in the 1700s.

When I first started perusing historical cookbooks, I was so startled to see curry listed as an ingredient in an American Cookbook, you know, way back then.  Truthfully, in my little area, there are precious few Indian restaurants.  If you want Indian food, you have to travel quite a bit to find it.  So, I didn’t really have curry in my house until a few years ago.  I may cook gumbo, eat sushi, have kids that eat escargot, and go to Indian restaurants for lunch, but use curry?  Not so much.   Country Captain was my attempt to introduce my kids to something with curry in it.  They liked Greek Chicken, so I was hopeful this will go as well.

I should mention, the rise of this dish has an amazing backstory.   (See the whole article here) There was a famous socialite in Columbus, Georgia by the name of Mary Bullard.  Mrs. Bullard, legend has it, wanted to serve her guest, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a spicy southern meal.  After perusing many cookbooks, she came across Country Captain and with few alterations, served it to the President.  He promptly took her cook to the White House to become the head chef!  If that wasn’t enough, General George Patton, on his way to Fort Benning, begged Mrs. Bullard for her Country Captain.   Roosevelt and Patton are thought to have spread the word about  Country Captain and gave the dish great notoriety.  James Beard called Country Captain second only to Southern Fried Chicken as the most important inherited chicken dish our country has.  Frankly, had I not seen Country Captain in Mr. Beard’s cookbook, American Cookery,  I wouldn’t have known it existed.  He dedicated 3 recipes and 2 pages to it.

This is a sublime dish, combining chicken, tomatoes, curry, onions, peppers, currants and almonds.  If you have time for this dish, most of the cooking occurs in the oven, which for me suits my weeknight meal schedule.  While it’s in the oven, I can check homework, clean up, etc.

You’ll understand why Patton was desperate to get a hold of this dish before he departed for Europe. It’s truly, truly good. I didn’t change too much about the recipe, except updated the format and used cauliflower “rice” for real rice and used chicken thighs, skin on.  Otherwise this is Mary Bullard’s recipe she served to President Roosevelt and General Patton.  How cool is that?!?  As a bonus, it got two thumbs up from the kids!

Country Captain
Serves 6-8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 75 minutes

1 cup oil, lard, or any other frying oil
6-8 chicken thighs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 onions, chopped fine
2 green peppers, chopped fine
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
2 teaspoons of curry powder
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 15 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (or however you can get to about 40 ounces)
1/2 tablespoon of Chopped Parsley
3 tablespoons dried currants (or raisins)
1/4 pound blanched, roasted almonds
black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil over medium high heat in a frying pan. (Going forward, I would use a dutch oven, that way there’s less mess to clean up. But staying true to the recipe, I used two pans.)

Pat chicken dry. Combine flour, salt and pepper. Coat chicken in flour mixture. Fry chicken in heated oil, in batches, until each side is golden brown. Remove chicken from pan and set aside and keep warm. According to Mrs. Bullard, keeping the chicken warm is the secret to the success of the dish!

Lower the cooking temperature to the oil to medium low.  While stirring constantly, add onions , green peppers and garlic and cook slowly until the onions are translucent. Add salt, white pepper and curry powder, and cook for 1-2 minutes. At this point, Mrs. Bullard advises to taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings to taste. (Personally, I’d wait for the addition of the rest of the ingredients). Add the tomatoes, parsley and thyme, stir to combine and bring to a slight simmer.

Place chicken into roaster (I used a dutch oven), cover with tomato mixture. If the tomato mixture doesn’t adequately cover the chicken, Mrs. Bullard suggests rinsing out the frying pan and adding it to the roaster. Place the lid on the roaster and place in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.

Place chicken over rice or, as I did, cauliflower “rice”. Add currents to the sauce and pour over chicken. Garnish with almonds and additional parsley.  Serve with mango chutney, if desired.

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