I’m about to get really Southern with y’all.
The cooking spree at the beach continues, and last night we made a favorite from my childhood: “fatty rice,” known more colloquially (and politely) as “chicken bog.”
Fatty rice, as my family unrepentantly calls it, is one of those nostalgia recipes for me — one of my favorite things my grandmother used to make while I was growing up. And it’s a nostalgia recipe for my dad too, since my great-grandmother made it for him. Once, my grandmother tried to tell me the recipe, which began with the instructions, “Go to the grocery store and buy the fattiest chicken you can find.”
My, doesn’t that sound appetizing?
Well, trust me. It’s delicious.
I’ve seen chicken bog listed as a side offering at some of those really traditional barbecue houses that have operated for years in small, South Carolina towns. It’s a dish of rice cooked in chicken broth with bits of chicken and sausage. I’ve never tried to make it myself, and haven’t eaten it in years — my grandmother passed away almost three years ago at age 91, and she had been out of the kitchen for years before that. But for some reason we were inspired this weekend. My grandmother’s spirit has always been alive and well at our beach house, so I’m sure she was looking over us and would have tapped us on the shoulder if we did something incorrectly.
I’m very proud to have been born in the South, and to have been raised in its deep, rich, unique and varied culinary history. Chicken bog is just the sort of southern dish I love — it’s reminiscent of my childhood, which already makes it special. But it’s also one of those classic, country cookin’ dishes that my generation just isn’t going to eat regularly, so we probably aren’t going to bother to learn to make it either. Yet I am determined to keep tradition alive wherever I can, so I’m committed to documenting this and other recipes like it.
To start, you make chicken broth, which cooks the chicken and provides the base liquid with which to cook the rice. While making traditional chicken stock for soups or cooking, you’d probably refrigerate the stock until the fat solidifies on top and then skim it off. But that layer of fat, while kind of disgusting, is what gives this dish its flavor. Just don’t think too much about it — you’ve eaten worse, promise.
To the broth you’ll add the shredded chicken and sausage to give the rice even more flavor. The result is a rich and glossy rice with a peppery spice, chock full of tender chicken and juicy sausage. It’s incredibly good comfort food that feeds a crowd — and a celebration of my southern heritage in remembrance of those special women who gave it to us.
Fatty Rice, a.k.a. Chicken Bog
For the broth:
For the rice:
To make the broth, place the chicken, vegetables, lemon, garlic and spices in a medium to large stock pot. Cover with water by 1-2 inches and simmer over medium heat for 1 1/2 hours. Every once in awhile, skim off the gunk that floats to the top. Pull out the chicken and let it cool. Strain the broth and discard the vegetables and any other remnants. **If you don’t want to strain the broth, you can add the sausage and rice directly. Just cut your vegetables a little finer.
When the chicken is cool enough to touch, remove the meat from the bone, shred it with your fingers and discard the skin, fat, bones, etc.
In a medium to large pot, bring 4 cups of broth and slices of sausage to a boil. Add the rice, salt and pepper. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer on low for 20-25 minutes. With about 5 minutes left, add the shredded chicken just to warm it, and replace the lid. If the rice needs more cooking, add additional broth and cover until the rice is tender and all of the broth has been absorbed.