A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Shrimp Purloo

There are about 14 ways to spell the name of this dish, one of which is "pilau"...but pilau means something quite different in Hawaiian than in South Carolinian. So I giggle every time I see it applied to rice. Shrimp pilau would not be a good thing.

Anyway, purloo, perlow, pilau, whatever. It's good and basic and has deep, deep roots in this region -- all the way back to European contact. I bought some local shrimp at the farmer's market last weekend and decided to make some purloo to use it properly.

I used Louis Osteen's recipe almost to the letter, which is something I almost never do because his recipes are usually far too rich. This one was reasonable.

It started with a stock made from the shells of a pound of shrimp. Shrimp shell stock takes all of 20 easy minutes and has the muskiest, saltiest, most profound odor and flavor...so it's always fun. This recipe used 4 cups of chicken stock plus the shells, some fresh thyme, and two bay leaves.

Then I rendered some bacon in my enameled cast iron Dutch oven, set the bacon aside, and sauteed an onion and a red bell pepper in the fat. I stirred in a cup of rice and sauteed that for a few minutes. Then came a little white wine, and the stock (2 and a half cups, reduced from 4 during the stockmaking), and the bacon. I put it in the oven for 20 minutes with the lid on for the rice to absorb the stock.

At the end I sauteed the shrimp over medium high heat for just a minute before adding them to the purloo. I added some chopped parsley, too. It was basic and good.

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