Chicken Pilau, sometimes called Purloo, is a traditional South Carolina Lowcountry and Gullah chicken dish. The chicken is cooked with rice, bacon, veggies and flavorings. This recipe varies with different families and their traditions. I decided to make this dish because I had recently purchased a cool old kitchen linen with cross-stitched chickens on it, plus I love southern foods.
The recipe comes from a book publisher that I’ve been working with over the past several years. This book is one in a series of State hometown cookbooks. It is titled, “South Carolina-Hometown Cookbook,” by Sheila Simmons and Kent Whitaker. See www.GreatAmericanPublishers.com.
The recipe given is my interpretation of the one from the book. I tweaked it for my own satisfaction, imagining the taste, color and texture I wanted to achieve.
Lowcountry Style Chicken Purloo
8 slices bacon, diced (use your favorite-I used pepper covered-you can never have too much bacon!)
1 whole chicken, cut up ( I bought a packaged cut up at the grocery store)
3 tablespoons olive oil/and bacon fat
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
½ cup celery (or more, if you like celery-I do not)
4 carrots, diced
1 small head broccoli florets (optional)
2 cups long-grain white rice
1 (13 ounce) package chicken broth (low sodium)
1 (13 ounce) package vegetable broth
½ cup water (add a little more, if necessary)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1/2 tablespoon poultry seasoning
Dash of turmeric (optional)
Dash of sage (optional)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
Flour for dredging chicken (optional)
Hot Sauce and a squeeze of lime juice (optional as toppings)
Cook diced bacon in a separate skillet. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Pour the bacon fat into a large stock pot. Note-Everything will finish in this pot, so it is important to pick the right size.
Dredge the smaller chicken pieces in flour. Heat up the bacon grease in the pot and then add the floured chicken pieces. Add a little more oil if necessary. You want to brown good on each side to crisp it up.
After browning the smaller chicken pieces for approximately 10-15 minutes, remove them from the pot and place on a baking tray. Place the tray in a hot oven (350°) and bake off for another 30 minutes, while you finish the rest of the dish. These browned pieces can be laid on top of the rice before serving.
To the large pot, now add the chopped onion, smashed garlic, celery, carrots and broccoli; cook until soft and golden brown-approximately 5 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.
Add the larger chicken parts (breast portions) and cover with chicken broth, vegetable broth and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to have a simmering boil going until the chicken is done (approximately 20 minutes.) Remove the large pieces to a plate to cool. Debone the chicken pieces and then shred into large chunks. Save the stock for cooking the rice.
Finally, add the 2 cups of rice to the stock and cook. When the rice is done, mix in the shredded chicken pieces, the cooked savory vegetables, the canned diced tomatoes and half of the bacon. Then lay the chicken pieces on top and sprinkle with the remaining bacon bits. Serve from the pot and use your optional toppings if desired.
Here is the finished product – it makes a lot and is good as a leftover. I call it flavorful and chicken-y.