The Captain’s Chicken
Galina Korotkina, in a spurt of joyous kitchen artistry, transformed this classic Russian dish known as captain's chicken into the very likeness of a captain, standing at attention and replete with tomato buttons, a hard-cooked egg head, and a carrot nose.
Yield: serves 6-8
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 3 medium white onions (1 chopped, 2 thinly sliced)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> cups mayonnaise
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>3</sub> cup golden raisins
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>3</sub> cup raisins
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> tsp. dried marjoram
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> tsp. dried thyme
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> tsp. ground sage
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (5-lb.) chicken
- 1 tbsp. steak seasoning, such as McCormick's Grill Mates Montreal
- 1 tbsp. canola oil
- 6 white potatoes (about 3 lbs.), peeled and sliced crosswise into ¼"-thick rounds (or waffle cut)
- 4 medium carrots, sliced crosswise into ¼"-thick rounds; one small piece cut into a matchstick
- 1 <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> cups grated jarslberg cheese
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 4 cherry tomatoes
- 1 head green leaf lettuce
- 1 hard-cooked egg, peeled
- 1 (1") round cooked beet
- Heat oven to 350°. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions and garlic and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; let cool. Add ¼ cup mayonnaise, raisins, marjoram, thyme, nutmeg, sage, and salt and pepper to taste; stir to make a stuffing. Season chicken, inside and out, with 2 tsp. steak seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Stuff chicken cavity with stuffing; tie legs together with kitchen twine.
- Grease an 11" x 14" roasting pan with oil. Arrange half the potatoes in pan, top with half the carrots and sliced onions, and season with half the remaining steak seasoning and salt and pepper to taste; top with half the cheese. Repeat process with remaining potatoes, carrots, onions, steak seasoning, and cheese. Nestle bay leaves in vegetables, then pour chicken stock over the top; dollop all over with half the remaining mayonnaise. Arrange chicken on top, breast side up, and spread chicken with remaining mayonnaise. Roast, rotating pan and basting chicken halfway through, until chicken is cooked through, about 1½ hours. Remove pan from oven; increase heat to 425°. Transfer chicken to a plate. Return pan to oven and roast until potatoes are golden brown, 15–20 minutes more.
- Secure 3 tomatoes to the chicken breast with toothpicks to form "buttons". Stand chicken up and top with a piece of lettuce, then the egg (stuck with the carrot matchstick to form a "nose" and the beet inserted in a slit to form the "mouth"). Top with another piece of lettuce; secure a tomato half on top with a toothpick to form the "hat". Arrange remaining lettuce leaves on a platter, top with roasted vegetables, and rest the chicken on top.
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