Chicken Bog (Cody McLellan)

Chicken Bog

The South Carolina Lowcountry has a long history with the production and consumption of rice. During the 18th century, rice cultivation expanded greatly in the tidal swamps and marshes of the South Carolina coast. South Carolina was the largest exporter/producer of rice in the nation up until the Civil War. Gold Coast Africans enslaved, especially for their knowledge of rice cultivation, were brought to South Carolina. The enslaved laborers who cleared fields in the Lowcountry applied their knowledge of tidal rice cultivation produced what was known as Carolina Golden Rice. Carolina Gold is not named for its color but named for the profits made from its cultivation. The abundance of rice production radiated from its epicenter of Georgetown, SC, which was the largest single port for rice exports at the time. With rice plentiful in South Carolina, it became a staple of local food traditions that survive even to this day. 

Today, a survivor of the rice-filled history of South Carolina is Chicken Bog. This rice based dish came from the blending of European and African cultures in the Lowcountry. Chicken Bog is popular and widely known throughout Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Florence, and Dillion County, South Carolina. The dish is closely related to what is commonly known as chicken perlo. What makes Chicken Bog different than Chicken Perlo? Chicken bog must be prepared with a few basic ingredients; chicken, smoked sausage, rice (yellow and/or white,) salt, pepper, and onions. Chicken bog is easily prepared, as long as you have a basic talent for cooking rice. To start a Chicken Bog dish you first have to prepare the stock. The stock is made by slowly boiling the chicken, along with, onions and preferred seasoning. Once the chicken has fully cooked it is deboned and chopped into smaller pieces. Most often the larger pieces of onions and seasoning (like garlic cloves) are removed from the stock. Finally, the chicken pieces, sliced sausage, and rice are added to the pot, along with the prepared stock, and cooked until done.  

Chicken Bog has been around in various forms since the colonial era. Upon a visit to Middleton Place, I was surprised to see a letter from a guest at the Middleton Plantation asking them to retrieve their enslaved cook’s rice and sausage perlo recipe. Growing up in South Carolina, much of my direct family was from Marion and Dillion County, Chicken Bog was often a staple on the dinner table. The dish is so common in the area that local gatherings and sporting events often have Chicken Bog on the menu. Since living on my own, I have been perfecting my variation of Chicken Bog and honoring local traditions along the way by sharing it with friends. Here is the first recipe I used to make Chicken Bog so that you can try this authentic South Carolina staple in your home.

Chicken Bog


(Recipe courtesy of the Loris Chamber of Commerce)

6 cups of water

1 tablespoon of salt

1 onion, chopped

1 (3-pound) whole chicken (I use boneless skinless chicken thigh fillets)

1 cup of long-grain white rice (I prefer Carolina Gold Yellow Rice)

1/2-pound smoked sausage of your choice, sliced (I use Kiabasa or Carolina Pride Smoked Sausage)

2 tablespoons of Italian-style seasonings (I use Salt, Pepper, Garlic, Old Bay, and various other seasonings, as well)

2 cubes of chicken bouillon (I use chicken bouillon or chicken stock/broth)

Place water, salt, and onion in a large pot. Add chicken and bring all 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 this chicken broth into a 6-quart saucepan. Add rice, chicken pieces, sausage, herb seasoning, and bouillon to this saucepan. Cook all together for 30 minutes; let come to a boil and then reduce heat to low, keeping the pan covered the whole time. If the mixture is too watery or juicy, cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, until it reaches the desired consistency. Stir often while cooking.

By Cody McLellan

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