Chicken Pilau, the epitome of Southern comfort food, is a flavorful chicken and rice dish. Depending on where you are from, you may also know it as Chicken Bog, Chicken Perlo, or even Perlo Bog. Full of tender meat, sautéed vegetables, and white rice, it’s quick and easy to make.
Chicken Pilau which is pronounced “per-low” in our neck of the woods, has long been a fundraising staple for churches and other organizations in rural North Florida.
The most famous Chicken Pilau event in our area used to be held annually in Havana, Florida. Dozens of chickens and mountains of rice were cooked all day in huge black cast iron pots over an open flame by volunteers for the throngs of hungry folks that showed up every year for the popular fundraiser.
If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you know I’m not one to spend all day cooking a dish, unless it’s in a slow cooker or crockpot. And, true to that, I’ve taken this dish I so fondly remember enjoying and added a few shortcuts to come up with this quick and easy recipe for you.
It may not be authentic, but it is still delicious and I hope you like it as much as we do.
Pilau comes from a word you are probably more familiar with, “pilaf,” which means rice dish. It is thought that pilau originated in Eastern Africa, and it is also a popular dish in Spain (paella), India, and Pakistan. Each area has its own version with the main differences in the spices and seasoning used.
How it became a popular dish in rural America is up for debate.
Here’s what you need:
This is a simple recipe with simple ingredients. You will need a rotisserie or cooked chicken, stock, uncooked long-grain rice, butter, kosher salt, and ground black pepper, celery, bell pepper, and an onion.
Here’s how to make it:
Place butter in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the celery, bell pepper, and onion. Cook for about four to five minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
Add the stock and the chicken and turn the heat to medium-high. When the stock comes to a boil, add the rice, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
Reduce the heat to a medium-low and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pot and let the rice cook for 20 minutes.
Uncover and remove from the heat. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately.
If desired, garnish with fresh parsley before serving.
What to serve with it:
Because this dish contains a protein, starch, and vegetables, I usually serve it by itself and call it a day. However, if you like, a side salad or sliced tomatoes might be nice to pair with it. At the Havana Pilau, it was served with coleslaw and an assortment of yummy homemade desserts.
Leftovers and Storage:
Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to four days. They are delicious when heated in the microwave. If it looks dry, add a small amount of stock or even water before heating. Pilau also freezes well and can be frozen for several months.
The consistency of this pilau is somewhat like a thick stew and is best served in a bowl.
Be sure to use long-grain rice in this recipe. Short-grain rice is sticky when cooked and best used to make sushi, and medium-grain is best to use in making risotto.
If you use unsalted or low-sodium stock, you may need to add more salt.
The salt measurements given are for kosher salt. If you use regular table salt, only use half as much.
Homemade stock is much more flavorful than purchased stock. Here is a link to my homemade chicken stock recipe, if you would like to make your own.
If you use a rotisserie chicken you already have the main ingredient (a carcass) to make the stock. If you don’t want to fool with it now, stash the carcass, skin, bones, etc, in a plastic storage bag in the freezer until you have time to make it. Then, add some veggies from your vegetable drawer, and you will be in business.
I often purchase eight or nine bone-in, skin-on breasts when they are on sale and roast them, so I always have it in my freezer for recipes like this. If you would like to cook it yourself, here is a link to my easy roasted chicken breast recipe.
This recipe fairly screams cozy “comfort food.” If you like such recipes, I think you might also like these Southern favorites: Chicken Divan, Vegetable Lasagna, Creamy Shrimp Creole, Chicken and Dumplings, Make-Ahead Baked Ziti with Sausage and Ricotta, Stuffed Shells with Marinara Sauce, and Chicken Mushroom Marsala Pasta.
You can find all of my Southern-style recipes at this link.
★ If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and give this recipe a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!
Thanks so much for visiting Grits and Pinecones!
Chicken Pilau Recipe
- 3 cups cooked chicken or one rotisserie chicken that has been deboned and the skin removed, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 sticks celery chopped
- ½ cup onion chopped
- ½ green bell pepper seeded and chopped
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup long-grain rice uncooked
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Optional garnish: fresh parsley chopped
- Place butter in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the celery, bell pepper, and onion. Cook for about four to five minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the stock and the chicken and turn the heat to medium-high. When the stock comes to a boil, add the rice, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to a medium-low and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pot and let the rice cook for 20 minutes.
- Uncover and remove from the heat. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately.
- If desired, garnish with fresh parsley before serving.
This is so yummy! My mom made it when we all had COVID, and it was so warm and comforting. I alter it just to use onions (I don’t like green peppers and rarely have celery on hand). I also use 1.5 cups of rice so that it comes out like a chicken abs rice dish rather than a soup. To get my three year old to eat it, I cut the pepper in half. She’s currently trying to drink the last little bit out of her bowl. 🙂
If you start with some chopped up bacon then add your butter to the fat to sauté your vegetables it makes a great base. We also add sausage in the SC lowcountry. Great dish, super easy.
I plan to make this soon! In my neck of the woods (just north of Tallahassee) we pronounce it “perloo”. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your recipe. I have fond memories of an annual chicken pilau fundraiser at Belleview Elementary (a small town between Ocala and Orlando). The dish was cooked in a giant vat and stirred with an oar! I look forward to trying this.