December 13, 2011

Chicken Pilau

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. See also my Low Country Chicken Bog.

I like to make this over the weekend and eat the leftovers for lunch throughout the following week. It heats up nicely and is wicked good with a few shots of hot sauce on it!

Chicken Pilau
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 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 low/medium-low and cover tightly. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and let sit for 20 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.


Note on Cooking Rice:
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, once 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.

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  1. So how would this translate to chicken pieces? I have bone-in thighs and bone-in breasts... how many pounds? How much would you estimate that this recipe makes?
    I love your blog. Your recipes and food photos are awesome, and you just crack me up!

    1. Thank you, Susie!! I'd use about 3-4 pounds if they're bone-in (about the same weight of a whole chicken) or just use 6-8 total pieces (depending on the size). This recipes makes enough to feed my brood and keep me in left-overs for days. I'd say this yields enough for 8 large servings.

  2. Looks y ummy!! I pulled out my chicken bog recipe this week, may just give this a try instead :)

  3. This looks like something my peeps would definitely eat. I make a similar dish with pork sausage crumbles that they gobble up. Thanks!

  4. I am totally in agreement on cooking rice--my mother always stirred it to pieces and wound up with a gummy mess!

  5. Southern Girl aka Rice AddictJuly 15, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Yes! Preach it, sistah! Just walk away!

  6. It's so simple to cook rice, yet cooks mess it up all the time! I saw Bobby Flay do that too. I think it was the jambalaya episode of Throwdown. I was yelling at him on the TV! :) WALK AWAY!

  7. Hi Susie! Now I know why your recipes are always my favorites! I was "baptized" into Southern cooking as a young wife from Minnesota when my ex moved me "home" to Elloree, Sc, so I learned just about 10 miles from St. Matthews where you were "being fed and taught"! Keep up the great job! I LOVE your recipes!

  8. I once had a friend tell me to make your rice in an oven! Yes that's right I said OVEN!! I personally thought he was crazy, but I went home and tried it anyway. Glory be it actually worked!! Fix your rice for however many people your serving, only difference is you don't heat the water just pour it in the pan and cover all the ingredients with foil and pop in the oven for 30min at 350 and when you take it out fluff it with a fork, Perfect rice every time!!!

  9. I follow a similar recipe. I add crumbled breakfast sausage along with the chicken and smoked sausage. Yummy! Also, use parboiled rice to ensure it is not too boggy.

  10. What if I'm using boneless, skinless chicken thighs? How much should I use to be the equivalent of 1 large chicken?

    1. 8-10, Since you won't have the skin or bones for flavor and fat, use chicken broth instead of water and add 6-8 tablespoons of butter.

    2. And then you'll need to reduce the salt since you're using broth. And you won't need to cook the chicken for an hour. Cook it for 30-40 minutes tops.

    3. Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I'm taking this to our Clemson tailgate this weekend. Go tigers!

  11. Can I use jasmine rice?
    If so do I do anything different?

    And is the sausage.cooked before you throw it in?
    If so how do you cook it?

    My aunts (from kingstree sc) made this all the time but they are not around anymore to ask them....
    Don't think they used celery, pepper flakes, paprika, bay leaf....I know they added onion though.

    1. Sure, you can use jasmine rice (it's a a long-grain rice). However long it says to cook on the package, cook it that long. Use the same amount of liquid.

      No need to cook the sausage.

      My parents don't fool around with the other seasonings either - that's just my spin on it :)

  12. I grew up using a New England version of this dish (my grandmom just called it chicken and rice) which used medium-grain rice, stewed chicken and linguiƧa - a spicy Portuguese sausage popular in the New Bedford/Fall River area - but the trick was the same...cover the rice and leave it the heck alone. Medium-grain rice is the starchy stuff one gets at a Chinese restaurant; with the chicken and sausage, it truly was a stick-to-your-ribs meal.

    Can't wait to try the perlo version!

  13. I'm from Georgetown, SC and I absolutely love Pilau in any shape or form, this recipe however is what people from G-Vegas all the way to New York City call Pilaf... Pilau by nature takes on the personality of the individual that makes it and will most certainly.. Start.. with some sort of smoked pork (bacon, butts meat, hog jowl, etc.) and be brown by the way it is prepared. The meat used also changes the flavor as well. Around here we use anything from chicken, boston butt, ham, squirrel, dove, duck or whatever you can get your hands on. Calling a man's Pilau a "Chicken Bogg" or "Pilaf" is almost as bad as slappin his mother. Use the same recipe above, only get rid of the green stuff and leaves. Start with a half pound of chopped bacon in a cast iron pot or dutch oven cooking until half done, then add half of a large chopped Vidalia and cook until almost clear, then add the cooked chicken and broth to pot check your seasoning(salt) bring to boil then add rice. This is just a push in the right direction. If you would like a pilau recipe that will sell 60 quarts in 2 hours let me know and I will post it for you.

  14. I make, basically, the same recipe but when pressed for time use low sodium chicken stock. I'll poach skinless, boneless chicken breast halves in the stock then shred them, add to the pot, along with the poaching liquid. What I find interesting, and have never done, is also add a smoked sausage, which I will do next time I make this.

    I still like to know who made this the first time, spelled it Pilau, and pronounce it Perloo!? :-)

    1. After seeing "Perlou" on Mind of a Chef(now showing n Netflix) I set out to find where this dish ended and Jambalaya began. Along the way, I came across Pilaf on Wikipedia. If you look it up, you'll see that the word is spread, in many variations, across many cultures. Given the region that this dish is big in, I'll bet you a Coke that it was a Cajun that this was origionated by a cajun with no acess to garlic or bell peppers..


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