After several conversations about favorite childhood foods and subsequent flipping through old cookbooks and recipes, I decided recently that I am setting a goal of attempting to recreate some beloved family dishes without using any canned ingredients. All the pros and cons of the modern food industry aside, I think it is pretty safe to say that a huge number of us grew up eating recipes that made hearty use of modern day conveniences, such as canned cream of mushroom soup. Those recipes—especially the casseroles involving canned cream of [mushroom/celery/chicken/all of the above] soup—can flare heated debates about how repulsive they are or are not, but a lot of them hold a special place in my heart. And while I won't pretend I have shunned all canned goods from my pantry, you just can't beat fresh ingredients. So when I got fresh peaches in my last Farmhouse Delivery, I decided to use them towards this goal.
My mom used to make two chicken + sauce + rice dishes that I loved, loved, loved growing up. The first was called Country Captain—which, made-up as the name sounds is a real thing (Google it, I promise)—that had tomatoes, green bell peppers, and onions in a curry sauce and used canned tomatoes. The other was a little more fluid and changed a little bit every time, but the sauce had canned peaches, brown sugar, and cider vinegar fairly consistently. I decided to combine the two recipes, essentially making Country Captain but using peaches instead of raisins. And come on, it's June in Texas... this is the time to take full advantage of fresh tomatoes and peaches!
I cook based on what I have at hand, only making a run to the store for ingredients that I can't make a reasonable substitution for, so I ended up using some banana peppers from my mom's garden rather than bell peppers and some small red onions from a friend's garden rather than yellow onions. Any mild pepper would work as would any type of onion or shallot.
Country Captain with Peaches
Yield: 4 servings
- 4 small boneless chicken breasts
- 1 C flour*
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Peanut oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- About 1/4 C thinly sliced onion
- 5 banana peppers or 1 green bell pepper, thinly julienned
- 2 tomatoes, cored & vertically sliced
- 5 small peaches, blanched, peeled, and vertically sliced (should be about 2 C once sliced)
- 1/4 C chicken broth (homemade is better)
- 1 T curry powder
- 1/4 tsp rubbed thyme
- 1 T brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp Hungarian paprika
- Kosher or freshly ground sea salt to taste
- Toasted, sliced almonds
- Combine flour and salt and pepper to taste in a shallow dish.
- Trim fat from chicken and flatten with a meat mallet to about 1/4" thick.
- Dredge the chicken in the flour until it is fully coated (should be a very thin coat) and set aside.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high. Add just enough peanut oil to coat pan.
- Add chicken and allow to sear and cook halfway through. Flip chicken and cook fully. Set aside and cover with foil.
- Quickly clean skillet and return to heat. Add more peanut oil to coat.
- Add garlic, onions, and peppers to pan. Stir frequently and cook until softened but not caramelized.
- Add tomatoes and cook down to a thick sauce, using your spoon to crush them as you stir.
- Add peaches, chicken broth, and spices and stir well. Turn up heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook another few minutes until peaches are softened.
- Stir in salt to taste.
- Serve chicken over rice and top with the curry sauce. Sprinkle with almonds.