Shrimp & Oyster Perlou
Perlou is a classic South Carolina dish. It’s essentially a rice dish filled with the flavors of the South and can include vegetables, seafood or cured pork. The idea of Perlou is to take delicious, basic ingredients, develop their flavor and texture through cooking and make them support ingredients for local South Carolina rice. The rice is the star here. Find the very best quality you can.
Yield: Serves 4-6
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounce piece Smoked pork sausage (like kielbasa) cut on a bias into 1/3 inch thick pieces
¼ cup diced Aged Country Ham (or Tasso or Virginia ham)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups diced yellow onion (about 1 large yellow onion)
1 cup diced red bell pepper (about 1/3 inch dice)
½ cup diced green bell pepper (about ¼ inch dice)
¼ cup sliced scallions cut on the bias, plus more for garnish
1 cup Carolina Gold Rice (or other good quality rice)
1 1/4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup chopped oysters in their liquor (liquor separated) (from about 1 dozen freshly shucked oysters - about 7- 8 ounces shucked)
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup tomatoes
4 sprigs of thyme
2 dozen medium shrimp (peeled, tails removed (deveined if necessary))
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 lemon juiced (only need 1-2 tablespoons)
1/3 cup chopped flat leafed parsley (from ½ large bunch)
1. In a heavy bottomed cast iron pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the smoked sausage slices in one layer and cook until beginning to brown, about 8-10 minutes. Add the aged country ham and stir. Cook a few more minutes until aged ham begins to crisp a bit.
2. Add the onions, garlic, red and green bell peppers and cook until beginning to soften about 8 minutes. Add the sliced scallions and the rice. Stir until the rice is well coated with oil.
3. Add the chicken stock, ¼ cup of oyster liquor, salt and freshly cracked pepper. Stir in the tomatoes, and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the sprigs of thyme. Cover, reduce the heat to low and let the rice cook untouched for 15 minutes.
4. After 15 minutes, listen to the sounds of the pot. You should start to hear the rice crisping (a popping sound) on the bottom of the pan, as the water evaporates. Once you start to hear the popping sound, remove the lid. Lay the shrimp in one layer over the rice. Sprinkle the cayenne over the shrimp. Don’t stir through. Cover the pot again and let the rice pop and the shrimp cook for 3 minutes.
5. Remove the lid, add the oysters and their liquid.
6. Finish the dish by squeezing lemon juice over (about 1-2 tablespoons to brighten the flavors), and a dash of hot sauce. Add the chopped parsley and stir through. The heat of the dish will cook the oysters.
7. As you stir, you’ll notice there will be some rice that has adhered to the bottom of the pan. Scrape up these crispy rice bits the added texture is part of the dish.
8. Divide the dish among dinner plates, topping each with a spoonful of crispy rice and thinly sliced scallions.