Okra PilauPosted: May 16, 2015
People in South Carolina love their rice. A variety of rice dishes are popular in the state, especially in Charleston and the Lowcountry. At one point in history, the Lowcountry was the center of rice production in the U.S. After slavery was abolished, rice production shifted to the Gulf Coast states, notably Louisiana and Texas. Rice is still an integral part of South Carolina’s agriculture. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the growing of an heirloom long grain rice variety called Carolina Gold. If you have a chance to purchase some Carolina Gold, do so. It’s wonderful.
Pilau (or purloo) is a common rice dish found on tables in the Lowcountry. Just as there are many different ways of preparing the dish, there are also many different names. “Perloo” or “purloo” and “pilaf” being very common. No matter what it is called, the dish consists of rice cooked in a broth, often with meat and/or vegetables for flavoring.
This particular pilau can be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon and using vegetable broth. If not using bacon, heat 2 tablespoons oil to cook the onion and bell pepper.
When choosing okra, pick the smaller pods. The larger ones can be quite tough and fibrous. You can use frozen okra for this dish.
4 slices bacon, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 pound okra, stem end removed and chopped or thinly sliced (you can use frozen okra)
3 tomatoes, chopped (or use a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained)
1 cup uncooked long grain rice (try Carolina Gold if you can find it)
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
salt and pepper, to taste
In a large skillet (that has a lid), cook the bacon over medium-high heat until just crisp. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until tender. Add the chopped okra, tomatoes, rice, and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stir well, then cover. Do not use a spoon to stir the pilau beyond this point. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid has cooked away, about 15 minutes. Fluff the pilau with a fork and serve.