Chicken Bog
Credit: Greg DuPree

Chicken bog is a type of Southern chicken and rice, but that meager description skips over its finer points. In regions of the South – such as the Lowcountry and  Louisiana – where rice once grew in great supply, no-fuss, one-pot meals that stretched a little meat, vegetables, and spices with lots of rice were a popular way to feed a crowd of hungry people at the end of an long work day. Jambalaya comes to mind, as does perloo (also known as purloo, perlo, pilau, pilaf and seemingly endless spelling variations.) These dishes might seem nearly identical to bog, but aficionados argue that the defining difference is in how the rice is cooked.

Culinary historian Karen Hess describes chicken bog as, "a pilau made in large batches, which would always cause it to end up wet." The term "bog," then, could refer to the dish's bogginess. Or it could be that the chicken gets bogged down in all that rice. Or it could be because that the dish hails from Horry County, South Carolina, a rather swampy and boggy part of the state.

Some recipes (including ours) include vegetables and generous seasoning, but purists insist bog is nothing more than chicken, smoked sausage, water, salt, and pepper. Maybe an onion. Maybe some hot sauce. Maybe this is why bog often reflects the contents of the cook's larder.

No matter the origin of its curious name or the exact contents of the pot, bog tradition remains rooted in the PeeDee region of the Palmetto state. The self-proclaimed capital of the chicken bog world is the tiny town of Loris, host of the Loris Bog-Off since 1980, scheduled this year for Saturday, October 27, 2017.