Bog, burgoo or pilau?
I first met a Chicken Bog at an extended family dinner on Folly Beach a few years ago. The main group came from Lexington and invited “the locals” to a meal. There were seven families involved, consisting of over 30 people in three generations. When I stepped into the kitchen and ogled one of the biggest stew pots ever, I inquired about the menu. I knew they hadn’t been there long enough to have amassed enough fish.
“The best thing to serve for a crowd this size, “answered Sidney Gatch, who was busily stirring the steaming – and luscious smelling pot – Chicken Bog.” She told me this was a southern dish indigenous to South Carolina, which traditionally included chicken, rice sausage, onions and seasonings. “The good thing about it,” she said, “is that you can add ingredients and adjust spices to please most any crowd. And everybody likes it!” What better recommendation could any recipe have? Except perhaps, the last quote in this column.
On researching the dish I discovered the bog is a stew “bogged down in juicy rice.” The most eloquent description I found said, “At its most elemental, chicken bog is a rich porridge of shredded, stewed chicken and tender rice, swollen with broth and silky with butter.” This is opposed to two other southern classics, a pilau, and a burgoo. The former, which my brother-in-law always pronounced “purloo,” is a drier dish including other meats and vegetables and the latter combines different meat, soup bones, vegetables like lima beans and corn plus a thickening agent.
An authentic recipe comes from the Loris SC, which this month, on October 19, beginning at 9 am, hosts its 34th Annual Loris Bog-Off Festival. The Loris Chamber of Commerce offers this authentic recipe.
•6 cups water
•1 tablespoon salt
•1 onion, chopped
•1 (3 pound) whole chicken
•3 1/2 cups chicken broth
•1 cup long-grain white rice, not instant
•1/2 pound smoked sausage of your choice, sliced
•2 tablespoons Italian-style seasonings
•2 cubes chicken bouillon
Place water, salt and onion in a large pot. Add chicken and bring all to a boil; cook until chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Remove chicken from pot and let cool. Remove skin and bones and chop remaining meat into bite size pieces.
Skim off fat from cooking liquid and measure 3 1/2 cups of this chicken broth into a 6-quart saucepan. Add rice, chicken pieces, sausage, herb seasoning and bouillon to this saucepan. Cook all together for 30 minutes; let come to a boil, then reduce heat to low, keeping pan covered the whole time. If mixture is too watery or juicy, cook over medium low heat, uncovered, until it reaches the desired consistency. Stir often while cooking.
I’m sure Sidney at least tripled her recipe for our family members, who by the way devoured every morsel. As with other regional recipes, there are many “traditional” variations. This bog can also include butter, garlic, bulk sausage, celery, and carrots, topped off with crisp bacon, all seasoned with various spices.
My favorite quote on this dish came from Edward B. Borden in his Sandlapper magazine article in January, 1968.
“The dish looks as if the cook went on a binge the night before, but legend has it one Yankee officer liked it so much he switched uniforms.”