Chicken bog is a delicious chicken, rice and sausage dish, and it's very much a South Carolina thing. Folks in surrounding states are likely to give you a blank stare if you mention it.
Specifically, chicken bog is most popular in Horry County - the home of Myrtle Beach and Conway - and west to Florence. (I grew up outside Columbia and don't remember ever hearing of it growing up.)
It's closely related to chicken pilau (or pilaf or perlo), except that it's ... well, boggier. It's moister than chicken perlo, which is more common in Georgetown County, just to the south of Horry County.
The name "bog" probably comes from the wetness of the dish, although some speculate that it may come from the bogginess of the area where it is popular.
South Carolinians, especially in the Lowcountry, have long had a love affair with rice. Throughout the 1700s until the Civil War, South Carolina was the largest rice producer in the nation, but it wasn't grown commercially through the 1900s. In recent years, Carolina Plantation Rice in Darlington and Anson Mills, based in Columbia, have begun growing rice again.
While there are recipes around that include green peppers and other vegetables, purists insist that the only ingredients should be chicken, smoked sausage, rice, salt and pepper and perhaps onion. Put a few drops of your favorite hot sauce on top, and it should be perfect.
Chicken bog is fairly simple and quick to make, and it's a great way to feed a large crowd.
The capital of the chicken bog world is Loris, where they've been saluting this favorite dish at the Loris Bog-Off Festival since 1979.
When I went a couple of years ago, I chatted with several of the contestants who were competing in the cooking contest. Most of them cook very traditional bogs and don't try to fancy it up with other ingredients.
Here is the recipe we used for the video:
Start to finish: 80-90 minutes
1 (3-4 pound) whole chicken
4 whole carrots
4 celery stalks
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of fresh cut basil
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of salt
1 tablespoon of ground black pepper
6-8 cups of water
2 cups of long-grain white rice
1 pound of smoked sausage of choice
2 tablespoons of dry Italian-style seasoning
Pulled or chopped chicken pieces from the whole cooked chicken
MAKE THE STOCK
Remove gizzards and rinse the whole chicken inside and out.
Peel and slice two onions. When slicing the onions, cut a grid into the onion from the top but stop short of the bottom so the onion remains whole. Slice carrots and celery on an angle into large pieces. Peel and crush garlic cloves. Chop fresh herbs. Prepare 2 tablespoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of pepper, season to taste.
Place all the ingredients, starting with the chicken, in a large pot (we used a 13 ¼ quart pot, a Dutch oven from Le Creuset). Pour in enough water to cover the entire chicken.
Bring to a boil; cook until chicken is tender, usually about one hour. Remove the chicken and set it aside to cool. Remove all large pieces of carrot, celery, onion and garlic. You can save these and use otherwise or discard.
FINISH THE BOG
Remove the skin and bones from the chicken. Chop or pull chicken into bite-size pieces.
Place chicken pieces, rice (we used Carolina Gold), sliced sausage and dried Italian-style seasoning in the pot full of chicken stock. Cook together and let come to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 20-30 minutes until the rice is tender. Stir often while cooking.
If you prefer less bog in your chicken bog, cook uncovered on medium-low heat until it reaches the desired consistency.
Loris Chamber of Commerce Recipe:
(Recipe courtesy of the Loris Chamber of Commerce)
6 cups of water
1 tablespoon of salt
1 onion, chopped
1 (3-pound) whole chicken
1 cup of long-grain white rice
1/2-pound smoked sausage of your choice, sliced
2 tablespoons of Italian-style seasonings
2 cubes of chicken bouillon
Place water, salt and onion in a large pot. Add chicken and bring 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 the chicken broth into a 6-quart saucepan. Add rice, chicken pieces, sausage, herb seasoning and bouillon to the saucepan. Cook for 30 minutes; let come to a boil and 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.