If you’ve never tried chicken bog, you should have been in Loris
For 32 years, people in the Horry County town have set aside a Saturday in October to pay tribute to this chicken, rice and sausage dish at the annual Loris Bog-Off Festival
Festival organizers say the event draws about 35,000 to Loris, which has a population of almost 2,500. There’s live entertainment all day, craft vendors, games for kids, a car and tractor show, but it’s the love of chicken bog that draws the crowds.
Thirteen contestants were cooking chicken bog Saturday morning, all competing for $500, a trophy and bragging rights for the year. Among those contestants were Charles Hearl Jr. and Bryan Hopkins. Both are from Conway and were competing in the cooking contest for the first year, and both say they make a very traditional bog.
Hearl said all he adds to his bog, besides the three main ingredients of chicken, rice and sausage, are onion and spices.
Hopkins said he cooks his “the way they cooked it years ago,” and always uses South Carolina-grown rice.
Hopkins left the festival with the title of first runner-up in the cooking contest, but the winner was Kevin McDowell, also of Conway. People who sampled got to vote for their favorite, and Terry Watts, also of Conway, was the People’s Choice winner.
Chicken bog is similar to chicken pilau (or pilaf or perlo), except that it’s … well, boggier. It’s more moist than chicken perlo, which is more common in Georgetown County, just to the south of Horry County.
Even though bog was the star of the festival, there were lots of other things to eat, too. I was amazed at how many concessions were set up along Main Street, Meeting Street and Railroad Avenue. It was like walking through the S.C.State Fair; (http://scstatefair.org/) you could get barbecue, corn dogs, bloomin’ onions, Polish or Italian sausages, boiled peanuts, fried oreos, turkey legs, nachos, funnel cakes, hot dogs and chili cheese fries.
Among the many volunteers who helped the Loris Chamber of Commerce put on the Bog-Off this year were Benjamin and Sylvia Hardee of Loris. He’s entered the cooking competition a couple of times and one year won second place.
Here’s their recipe, along with their tips, for making a good chicken bog:
1 3-lb. hen
1 pound of smoked sausage, sliced
Onion (if desired)
Salt and pepper
Boil the chicken until tender. Cool and remove the bones and skin. Chop chicken into bite-size pieces.
Return the chicken to the broth in the pot; add sausage, rice, salt and pepper and other seasonings if desired. Bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to low. Cover the pot and leave it covered for about 30 minutes.
Benjamin Hardee recommends cooking the whole chicken, rather than only breasts or legs and thighs. The dark meat adds flavor and the white gives the bog its consistency, he said.
Sylvia Hardee said a hen is preferable, but a young fryer can be used. In that case, you probably should add bouillon cubes for additional flavor. Also, the fryer will cook much quicker.
"Would kielbasa sausage be acceptable instead of smoked sausage?" I asked. It would, he said, but you’d never win the bog cooking contest with it.
Sylvia Hardee says people use different types of rice: long grain or short grain, white or yellow. She prefers a mix of white and yellow to give the bog color.
If you need more specific measurements, click here
for a recipe contributed by the Loris Chamber of Commerce.