Did some cooking over the weekend, and my first ever Low Country Pirlau(some people pronounce it per-loo), from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table Cookbook from Highland’s Bar and Grillin Birmingham(you know you’re somebody when author Pat Conroy writes your foreword). If you’ve never eaten there, let me tell you it’s a culinary kingdom and Stitt holds the keys to the castle. His cookbook came out in 2004 and won several big awards…my late Mother-in law Shirley, bought me a signed edition of the book, for which she probably stood in line. Great lady, that woman….I miss her all the time, and especially when I use the book. So what is a pirlau? Here is one definition I’ve been able to find on a low country website….
“Pirlau (there is no one accepted pronunciation, “pur-loo” being just one variant) is a rice porridge with African roots; the name reflects the dish’s international origins, as it is related to the Middle-Eastern pilaf and the East-Indian pilau. In its essence, it is a thick stew based on chicken (or wild game bird), vegetables and spices with a great deal of long grain rice mixed in. It may contain the mucilaginous vegetable okra as a thickener, in which case it might masquerade as a gumbo.”
Mine did not masquerade at all…I would say a pirlau is kind of like a bouillabaisse, or a paella….though thicker than the former and a bit soupier than the latter. But no saffron. And there aren’t many recipes on line for pirlau…..I found this simplified recipe on the Baltimore Sun’s website….it’s kinda close one to the one I used, though Stitt’s called for 4 ripe tomatoes, not one, and used chicken broth which you turned into seafood broth by simmering the shrimp shells in the broth for 10 minutes. His also called for a red bell pepper and an onion chopped and sauted(which I think are crucial), and couple of cloves of garlic…and the seagood is key. I found some wild caught Gulf shrimp, which are just soooo sweet and yummy…It was a fabulous dish. And there was no okra in mine, though I think it might have been nice addition.
Friday night we ate out at The Wine Market, celebrating a family birthday….remember how pleasant it was Friday? We dined al fresco on their lovely patio…may be the last time it’s used this year…though you never know in Maryland…there could still be more Indian Summer days ahead of us.