Dishes like this one appear in various cultures as pilaf, jambalaya, and just plain chicken and rice. In Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry, they started as pilau, but they’re often spelled perloo (though I’ve seen purloo, perlo, and perlau as well). The word is pronounced “PER-lo,” “per-LO,” and “pee-LO,” but that o is a distinctive Charleston sound—and many people not from here think we are saying “oo.” Some people say “oo, la, la”; others say “oh, la, la.”

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Ingredients

  • 1 3½ - to 4-pound chicken
  • 2 quarts water
  • ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about cups)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 or 3 large tomatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice

Method

Cover the chicken with the water and boil in a large pot, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the broth and reserve the broth. Skin the chicken and remove the bones, pulling the meat from the bones. Cut the meat into uniformly sized pieces. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven on top of the stove, then add the onions and the celery and cook over medium heat until the onions start to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice and the seasonings, adding a little more salt than you might think is necessary. Add the chicken meat, the rice, and 1 quart of the reserved broth. Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook slowly, without lifting the lid, for 30 minutes. Serve with a green salad and corn bread.

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