Shrimp in garlic sauce
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What: Another rice dish with deep ties to the area, shrimp or chicken bogs are like a stew with rice, calling to mind Louisiana’s jambalaya but typically wetter—or boggier, it may be, a fitting name and texture for a traditional dish in the marshy Lowcountry. The bog is really a type of pilaf, known colloquially as a pilau, a purloo, or even prioleau (depending on whom you’re talking to); it just requires more stock to achieve its extra-moist texture, whereas pilaus are fluffier, with grains of rice that readily separate. (Keep in mind that for many locals, the topic of how rice should be cooked and defined in its various regional formats is a great excuse for a heated argument.) Chicken bogs in particular are prized for the rich stock, made with juices strained from stewing the whole bird, that moistens the rice. Sadly for visitors to Charleston, bogs are not super common outside of people’s homes or potluck suppers, but there are a few good restaurants serving it up.
Good to know: Every fall the small town of Loris, South Carolina, in the bog-loving northeast “Pee Dee” area of the state, holds a weeklong “Bog Off” festival that includes a big chicken bog cooking contest—probably a fantastic way to taste the myriad regional differences that crop up in this dish.
Where: The friendly, wonderful Hominy Grill (207 Rutledge Ave., map) pays tribute to many local dishes to delicious effect, and shrimp bog is one of them, appearing on its daily “Charleston Classics” menu. We like this restaurant for many reasons, beginning with the fact that instead of bread, each table gets a complimentary bowl of warm boiled peanuts. Score!
When: Mon-Fri, 7:30am-9pm; Sat, 9am-9pm; Sun, 9am-3pm. The daily menu is available after 11:30am on weekdays and after 4pm on Saturdays.
Order: The shrimp bog ($17) is a hearty affair, with butterflied shrimp joining andouille sausage, “Creole” veggies (including celery and red and green peppers), short-grain Carolina Gold rice, and a dusting of chives in soupy, savory harmony. The shrimp-sausage pairing is very reminiscent of jambalaya, of course, but as is indicative of a true bog, the rice and proteins are bound closely and wetly together here. Also good here? Shrimp and grits, chicken country captain (another hard-to-find traditional dish), and just about all the “vegetables” offered in the combo plates (but especially the squash casserole, the collard greens, the stewed okra and tomato, the cornbread).
Alternatively: One of the few menus on which we spotted anything resembling chicken bog or even pilau is at Mamma Brown’s BBQ (2840 Highway 17 N., Mount Pleasant, map) —where a “black pot chicken and sausage puerlo” is available—in Mount Pleasant, just over the bridge from Charleston. Deeper into purloo territory, Gullah Cuisine (1717 N Hwy 17, Mount Pleasant, map), also in MP, does an okra-and-ham “perlou,” while our favorite Lowcountry soul-food cafe, Bertha’s Kitchen (843-554-6519; 2332 Meeting Street Rd., map), in North Charleston, sometimes offers turkey prioleau (if only there were as many restaurants serving these types of dishes as there are spellings of it!). Finally, we are intrigued by the $50, surely shareable Lowcountry seafood pilau, with Carolina Gold rice, field peas, clams, shrimp, and fish, from farm-to-table restaurant The Grocery (4 Cannon St., map). Failing all that, trying your hand at cooking a bog at home may be your best bet, as good recipes for both shrimp bog and chicken bog abound and aren’t that difficult to make.
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