Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lowcountry Perloo!

Perloo! One of my favorite dishes of all time. Perloo is from the Lowcountry of South Carolina and is the sister of Jambalaya with its French and Spanish influences and its origin is from the middle eastern dish called Pilau or pilaf. It seems every culture has its one pot meals. The Spanish have their Paella, Italians have their risotto, the Middle East have their Pilau and in America in different parts of the country we have ours like Chicken Bog, Perloo, and Jambalaya.
When making these one pot meals is all about building your flavors, layers and layers of flavor. This a wonderful meal and doubles and triples well if you want to feed a crowd. Here is some advice if you are cooking this rice dish for a crowd. Wider is better than deeper!! I have seen many of people trying to make a large batch of perloo, jambalaya or chicken bog and have all their ingredients in a narrow tall pot like a stock pot and scorch the rice or basically ruin the whole batch. You can't fix scorched! So I suggest using a wide shallower pot so the rice can cook evenly. When you use a tall pot all your ingredients have a tendency to settle to the bottom and subsequently will scorch.
This recipe is a good one with a ton of good flavor and is a real joy to make. Serve this dish with a good buttery chardonnay like Cakebread or Mer Soleil. Enjoy............ 

18 sm hard shell clams, thoroughly rinsed, scrubbed
1 lb fresh shrimp, peeled, with tails left on

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 lb finely diced country ham
1 lg onion, finely minced
2 tsp finely minced garlic
2 lg ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup of Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
2 sm hot dry chili peppers
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
2 c raw short grain rice
4-5 cups hot chicken or shrimp stock 
1 cup shelled fresh peas (blanched in boiling water for 5 mins)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


I make this dish like you would make paella. Most versions, people will cook there ingredients in a pot, add the rice, stock, seafood and put the lid on it and let it go for twenty minutes or so and you ready to eat. I make it differently. Pay attention! Lol!
In a large paella pan or large skillet add your olive oil and saute the country ham until nice and brown a little crispy. Add the onion, garlic and tomatoes (called sofrito in Spanish) and cook until most of the moisture is cooked out of the tomatoes and the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld .
Add to pan the parsley, red pepper, chile's, oregano and basil and cook for 2 minutes. Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains.
Add 4 cups of the stock and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. At this point taste your stock for seasoning because this is what your rice will taste like. Add salt and pepper as needed. Simmer perloo for about 15 minutes. Add your clams, shrimp and fresh peas to pan and nestle into rice, add more stock if needed, cover and simmer for the last 10 minutes. Remove lid and test rice to make sure its done. Rice should be tender and perloo should be nice and moist. Serve at once..... 

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