A Beginner's Guide to Chicken Bog – Garden & Gun

Forgotten Southern Recipes

A Beginner’s Guide to Chicken Bog

Chicken, sausage, and rice come together in a potful of Carolina comfort—brought inside for home cooks in this twist by the Lee Brothers

photo: Johnny autry | Food Styling by Charlotte Autry


Celebrating regional dishes, we always feel a pang of regret. Place an icon like Nashville hot chicken, say, or New Orleans gumbo on a pedestal, and it’s inevitable that its culinary siblings—no less delicious, no less geographically distinct—are missing out on the spotlight. What chance does corned ham have in the whole-hog barbecue mecca of Eastern North Carolina? Or a street vendor’s rice calas sharing the neighborhood with Café Du Monde’s sugary beignets? Here in the South Carolina Lowcountry, shrimp and grits never fails to steal the show from our beloved chicken bog (and from many other dishes).

Perhaps the best word to describe chicken bog is one used by the late culinary historian Joseph E. Dabney, author of the 2010 book The Food, Folklore, and Art of Lowcountry Cooking: “unheralded.” Proof of this: While we grew up just a couple of hours down the interstate from bog’s ground zero in South Carolina’s Pee Dee region, encompassing the towns of Florence, Conway, and Loris (which hosted its fortieth annual Loris Bog-Off Festival last year), our own first taste of chicken bog only came when we were in our thirties, in the Church Street kitchen of our friend, the Charleston painter and arts educator Janet Hopkins. We devoured it. Richly flavored—and alluringly, aptly named—this semi-soggy chicken-sausage-and-rice medley was comfort’s essence.

Chicken bog is like a wetter jambalaya or pilau, and, like those dishes, has origins in the West African rice kitchen that proliferated in the state during the years enslaved Africans worked rice plantations from the Pee Dee region down to what we now call the ACE Basin. Some writers (Dabney included) surmise from oral histories a connection between the “boggier” preparation and the fact that the dish was typically cooked outdoors in large quantities, a community repast on the order of Kentucky burgoo or Virginia’s Brunswick stew, concentrating and complexifying over hours.

Our own recipe brings the dish indoors. And while traditionalists may tut that we serve the stewed chicken over cooked rice (a more accessible preparation for home cooks as opposed to cooking up the rice with the chicken in its own broth), there’s no scrimping on chicken-love in our version, as we preserve the giblets that traditionally give this stew such a deep and rich, rustic flavor. No regrets here.


This article appears in the August/September 2020 issue of  Garden & Gun. Start your subscription here or give a gift subscription here.


Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, or lard

    • 1 (4½-to-5-lb.) chicken, quartered and skinned, giblets finely chopped

    • ½ lb. sweet Italian sausage (about 4 links), cut from casing

    • 1 cup full-bodied red wine, such as merlot, cabernet, or Syrah

    • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter

    • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

    • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 2 large onions)

    • 1¾ cups chopped celery (about 6 stalks)

    • 2 cups chopped red or green bell peppers (about 3 peppers)

    • 2 cloves garlic, minced

    • 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes

    • 2 tbsp. minced fresh thyme

    • 2 cups chicken broth

    • Kosher salt

    • Freshly ground black pepper

    • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

    • ½ cup chopped green onions


Preparation

  1. Place oil in an 8-quart stockpot or Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken pieces to the pot (don’t crowd them; brown in batches, 2 at a time, if necessary) and sear until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove and reserve in a bowl. Add sausage and chicken giblets to the pot and stir, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon. Cook until completely browned, about 6 minutes. Remove and reserve in the bowl with the chicken.

  2. Add the wine to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom. Boil until the wine is reduced by one-quarter, about 4 minutes. Pour the reduced wine over the reserved meats.

  3. Turn the heat down to medium-high and add the butter. When it has melted, stir in the flour. Stir constantly for 2 minutes until smooth, then add onion, celery, peppers, and garlic and sauté, stirring constantly, until the onions begin to turn translucent, the peppers begin to pale, and the flour has turned a pale tan, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes, the contents of the reserving bowl, thyme, and broth, cover, and bring to a vigorous simmer over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to low, uncover, and simmer gently for 25 minutes, or until the broth has reduced by about one-quarter. Turn off the heat.

  4. With tongs, transfer the chicken pieces to a bowl or a cutting board with a drain. When they are cool enough to handle, pick the meat from the bones and discard the bones. Return the picked chicken to the pot, turn the heat to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes, breaking the chicken into threads as you stir. Turn off the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

  5. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving in deep bowls. (For optimal flavor, “cure” in the refrigerator for 24 hours; if you wish, spoon the fat from the surface before reheating.) Serve over hot white rice, garnished with parsley and green onions.


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