Evergreen, Nottoway, Madewood, Laura—these and other restored Mississippi River plantations dot the Louisiana landscape along “River Road” from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, and none is more regal than the two-story, white-columned, Greek Revival Oak Alley plantation at Vacherie, where I was once served a chicken and ham pilaf much like this one in the mansion’s cypress-paneled dining room. Down in New Orleans, the dish would probably be called jambalaya, while over in the Carolinas and Georgia, it would be referred to as a “pilau” or “perloo”. How pullao from India evolved in the American South as “pilaf”, “pilau”, “perloo”, and even “purlow” in multiple guises remains, of course, one of the great culinary mysteries—the single unifying distinction being the importance of rice. Do remember that, like a jambalaya, this dish must be dry and fluffy.
In a heavy skillet, fry the bacon over moderate heat till crisp, drain on paper towels, and crumble, reserving the grease.
Add the chicken, ham, pimentos, and bacon, stir till well blended, cover, and
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.