When Food Network celebuchef Bobby Flay challenged the two Lee brothers — the Charleston-bred Matt and Ted Lee — to a throwdown over a dish they all referred to as Country Captain Chicken, everyone on the screen acted as if this was as common as she-crab soup or shrimp and grits around here. Flay called it a “mysterious Southern dish.” Ted boasted that tasters would be “in for the most excited flavors of their life.” I grew up in Mt. Pleasant, learning to cook partly from ancient recipes in my mom’s well-worn, grease-splattered cookbooks, and I’d never heard of the complicated, curried chicken ’n’ rice dish until the Throwdown episode aired last November (it was timed to correspond with the release of the Lee’s colorful and helpful cook book, Simple Fresh Southern). Flay’s version looked a little too dainty to be truly Southern. The Lee’s version looked a little heartier and goopier, but they had lady luck on their side and won the throwdown for a dish that few Charlestonians were even aware existed.
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