Bill and Morton Neal’s Recipe for Chicken Country Captain is a winner, winner chicken dinner.
Anyone who has spent 5 minutes in Chapel Hill, NC has heard about Southern food institution, Crooks Corner. They’ve been in the news this week as the long-time owner sold the restaurant. Also, the chef for the past 25 years, Bill Smith, has decided to retire. He’ll pass Crook’s classic recipes on to a new head chef.
Crook’s Corner was Bill Neal’s labor of love. Bill Neal is an icon in southern cuisine. To learn more about Bill and his influence, check out this wonderful article that appeared in Duke Magazine.
In Chapel Hill, N.C., a cosmopolitan if out-of-the-way corner of the New South, Bill Neal, a self-taught, 34-year-old graduate of Duke University, was plowing the same furrow at a restaurant called Crook’s Corner. He won regional renown for dishes like boned quail and shrimp with grits. He wrote a highly influential book called ”Southern Cooking” (University of North Carolina Press, 1985, reissued 1989). Craig Claiborne of The New York Times came to visit and to praise — a sure sign, in that era, that a chef had arrived.
Bill Neal’s former wife, Morton Neal, shared a collection of never before published recipes from both the restaurants they created and Bill’s home cooking in Remembering Bill Neal. It’s one of my favorite cookbooks. I love the Family Chili recipe and Chicken Country Captain. I’m not going to share the recipe here – you’ll need to buy the book yourself! It’s worth it for the stories and the down-home approach to Southern cooking.
Take a tour of my kitchen as I get started on Chicken Country Captain: