Besides our being famous for the creation of Dr. Pemberton’s Coca Cola and being the home of AFLAC, my hometown Columbus, Georgia (sharing the same roads with Ft. Benning) is also known for the Southern staple Country Captain. The Junior League of Columbus has kept the recipe in its cookbooks dating back to my earliest copy from 1957 to its newest from 2010. They say it originated here and in the South, that’s gospel when it comes to claims of food. Don’t mess with us, Darlin’.
According to the cookbooks when General George Patton was en route through Columbus from Ft. Benning he wired ahead saying, “If you can’t give me a party and have Country Captain, put some in a bucket and bring it to the train.” They would! Smart General. The newest Columbus Junior League cookbook Pull Up a Chair: company, conversations & cuisine further tells the origin of the recipe as being created by Mary Blackmar Bullard in the early 1900s. Her daughters shared it with family and friends. In addition to Patton’s love for the dish, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt enjoyed it so much that he hired the family cook right out from under the Bullards and moved him to the White House.
A few days ago, I set out to officially test my new version of this classic dish using a slow cooker and making it Weight Watchers friendly. If you know anything about the recipe, that’s no small task because the true Country Captain dish has fried chicken in it and honestly, it’s not the same with grilled or even letting the chicken cook from the start in the sauce with no breading. Yuck.
I posted pictures on Facebook and because I have a few young military wife friends, the pictures got comments requesting what this dish was? They’d never heard of it. So today, I want them (and you) to know how to prepare this dish in a simpler and healthier way. I think the General and President would still request it were they still alive.
- 24 oz. package Tyson frozen fully cooked lightly breaded chicken breast strips
- 2 (14.5 oz cans) Hunts fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
- ½ cup water
- ½ Vidalia onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1-2 tsp curry powder
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 3 cups cooked rice, kept warm for serving
- ¼ cup dried currants
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- 1 green onion, chopped
- In a slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray, lay the frozen chicken strips. Cover with remaining ingredients, except rice and last three ingredients.
- Cover and cook on LOW heat for 4-5 hours or until bubbly. Stir to combine all ingredients.
- Serve over ½ cup rice per person. Top with the remaining three ingredients evenly divided among servings.
- Enjoy with cooked haricot verts or a green salad (Points Plus value not figured into recipe for additional items).
I gathered the ingredients:
Then put them in the slow cooker:
And I waited for them to do their thing over the course of six hours. Considering that the chicken was cooked, but frozen, I assumed six hours would be a tad too long but I had to be away from home and trusted that the LOW setting was going to be just fine. It was long enough to make the chicken begin to fall apart, so I would recommend to start with four hours and check to see if cooking should continue. Be sure to stir at some point so all flavors have time to marry. Serve over the hot rice and top with almonds, currants, and green onions.
The not fried, but breaded and precooked chicken gave me the taste and consistency to which I have grown accustomed in Country Captain. Eating a controlled portion that had points comparable to most recipes for main dishes in Weight Watchers afforded me the tasty compromise I desired. Enjoy this classic Columbus dish do-over. It’s some gracious goodness on a plate.