Hoppin' John's Charleston, Beaufort and Savannah: Dining at Home in the Lowcountry
by John Martin Taylor, 1997, Clarkson Potter
been said that to know Charleston is to know rice, and this simple tomato pilau
(pronounced PERloe, PiLOE, or PERloo) is one of the classic dishes of the old city of rice
planters. Self-respecting Charleston cooks make this with beautiful, local vine-ripened
tomatoes, available throughout the summer and fall. In winter months, you may be better
off using canned. An adulterated version including tomato paste appeared in the Junior
Leagues Charleston Receipts of 1950. This older, simpler version is
truer to the original receipt, as recipes are still called in Charleston, with
olive oil replacing the traditional bacon."
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups long-grain white rice
2 cups vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 can crushed
tomatoes (14˝ ounces)
1˝ teaspoons salt
1 quart chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Place the oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat, add the rice,
and sauté, stirring constantly. It will begin to turn white after a few minutes; do not
let it scorch or brown. Add the tomatoes and continue to sauté until most of the liquid
has evaporated. Add the salt and the stock and simmer slowly, covered, for 30 minutes or
until the rice is tender. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes. Just
before serving, fluff the rice with a large fork as you fold in the chopped parsley. Serve
immediately. Serves 8.
Variations (not from the above cookbook):
Use 4 ounces bacon instead of the olive oil. Fry the bacon and
drain it. Use the bacon grease in place of the olive oil. Add cooked, crumbled bacon
toward the end of the cooking time.
Add ˝ cup chopped onion. Sauté the onions along with the rice.
Add 1 teaspoon sugar and Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste.
Some southern cooks prefer to bake the rice (45 minutes to 1 hour
at 350° F.)