This curried chicken casserole (from Atlanta's Watershed) is a Southern Lowcountry classic whose name harks back to the days when ships' captains in port cities like Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, traded in spices acquired during their travels abroad.
- 1 (3–4-lb.) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1⁄4 cup canola oil
- 6 slices bacon, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 green bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped, (3/4 cup tomato juice reserved)
- 3 tbsp. curry powder
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1⁄3 cup currants, plus more for garnish
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups steamed white rice, for serving
- Peanuts, for garnish
Season chicken with thyme, salt, and pepper. Heat oil in a 5-qt. dutch oven over high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
Discard oil and return dutch oven to medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside. Add the garlic, celery, peppers, and onions to the dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juice and cook, stirring frequently, until the juice thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, butter, currants, and bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it thickens into a chunky sauce, 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 325˚. Add the reserved chicken to the dutch oven, nestling it into the thick curry sauce; spoon some of the sauce over chicken. Cover and cook until chicken is very tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken, serve with rice, and garnish with bacon, currants, and peanuts.
Pairing note The fruity, mildly tannic notes of the 2006 Magito Cabernet Sauvignon Highlands Blend from Sonoma County nicely complement the curry in this dish.