We pronounce this as Chicken Perlo (PER-lo) and I’ve seen it spelled that way too. Chicken Pilau is a close cousin to the traditional Southern chicken bog which usually doesn’t have the smoked sausage and is cooked with more liquid. The pilau finishes with a fluffier rice texture whereas the bog is well, kinda boggy.
1 large chicken
3 1/2 cups water*
2 stalks celery
3 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
2 cups uncooked long grained rice
1 pound smoked sausage
Remove giblets, etc. from the chicken cavity (if included). Clean and rinse chicken well and place in a Dutch oven (or large pot with a tight-fitting lid). Add water, celery, 2 teaspoons of salt and next five ingredients (through bay leaf). Bring to a slow simmer over medium heat. Once water begins to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover tightly and simmer for 1 hour.
Remove chicken from broth and set aside. Strain broth and measure 4 cups liquid (not rendered fat – the fat will set on top of the broth). Set broth aside.
Remove skin, bones, etc. from chicken. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and set aside.
Slice smoked sausage on a bias into bite-sized pieces. Add sausage, 4 cups broth, chicken pieces and remaining teaspoon of salt (I know this seems like a lot of salt but there is a lot of rice here – just trust me) and uncooked rice to Dutch oven. Bring contents to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cover tightly. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes or so. I actually think this dish is best just a few notches above room temperature… you’ve got to give the rice a chance to mellow out and get happy.
*Be sure to use a liquid measuring cup as dry and liquid measuring cups are not the same.
My father’s people come from an area of South Carolina that stretches between Charleston and St. Matthews which means that we have rice in our blood and could cook it blindfolded and drunk but if cooking larger quantities of rice makes you nervous keep these two things in mind:
Firstly, traditional long-grain white rice cooks at the exact ratio of liquid to rice of 2:1. Now, don’t make the mistake of using a liquid measurer for one and a dry measurer for the other because they are not the same. Just be sure that you use the same device for both.
Secondly, the biggest mistake folks make with rice is messing with it. Every time you take the lid off you upset the 2:1 ratio because you’re letting go some of the liquid via steam. Just stir it once or twice in the beginning until you get the temperature just right, one or twice about halfway through then cover it and walk away. Just walk away. I saw Bobby Flay ruin a pot of jambalaya once because he couldn't quit messing with it. Just. Walk. Away.