We all know that rice was grown in the lowcountry during the colonial era. There are reminders everywhere of our by-gone rice culture. But have you ever thought about what happened to these fields after they stopped growing rice? Many of them were sold to wealthy northerners for hunting plantations. Evidently the rice fields became a wonderful home for ducks.
“This is the story of how ducks became a catalyst for transforming South Carolina’s rice culture into one of the greatest land conservation movements in America,” says Matt Connolly, Jr (former CEO of Ducks Unlimited and Wetlands America Trust) of Virginia Beach’s book Rice & Ducks: The Surprising Convergence that Saved the Carolina Lowcountry. Along with some wonderful history of the area, there are some lovely images from area artist, including a couple from artist West Fraser.
Over the last few decades two companies have been responsible for bringing back our native rice species—Anson Mills, based in Columbia, S.C. and Carolina Rice Plantation located around Darlington, S.C. They have cultivated Carolina Gold and brought it back to it’s former glory. Rice features prominently in Gullah-Geechee and Charleston cuisine, as in chicken perlau or bog.
Chicken bog is a stew of chicken, sausage and rice. ‘Its lineage speaks to the Creole confluence of communal rice dishes from Africa, Persia, Indonesia, and Asia.’ (www.ansonmills.com). It is similar to a pilaf and thought to be called ‘bog’ because of its wet, ‘boggy’ textures. I’d like to think that it’s called chicken bog because the area in which it is most popular has a wet and boggy landscape. Although using a whole chicken to make the stew is best—you can cook the bird, make a stock and pick the meat one day, and the next day make the bog, you could also purchase a rotisserie chicken and chicken stock and make it all in one day, either way it will be delicious if you take care to season and not overcook your rice! Of course it’s best if you use some Carolina Gold, but jasmine rice works ok too.
Anson Mills Chicken Bog
Equipment: 5-6 quart stockpot
Bring stock to a simmer. Add chicken and sausage and continue to simmer. Once meat is heated through, reduce heat and add rice and seasonings. Continue to cook uncovered at a gentle simmer until the rice is cooked and the stew is thickened.
Remove from heat, stir in butter. Garnish with scallions and parsley.