Oh y’all…this is it. Chicken Pilau. The recipe that eluded me for over a year. Want to know why? Because even though this traditional Southern dish is spelled pilau it’s pronounced “perlow.” PERLOW y’all. So first of all, let me set the scene for you.
It’s December 2014 and Matt and I are having his Christmas office dinner party at his boss’s house. His boss at the time was a well-respected judge, who prior to his move to the judiciary, was a highly-respected attorney here in Charlotte. He is funny, kind, sharp and very intelligent. His wife is equally impressive. She works full time in the financial industry AND her house was impeccably styled in the Christmas spirit, and she had prepared a killer meal, including fabulous Bourbon punch, dips and other appetizers, and you guessed it… pilau. It was so unbelievably good that I went back for a huge helping of seconds and didn’t even care that I was eating way too much. I wasn’t even hungry! I just knew I wanted more.
We left the party and I just couldn’t stop thinking about this “perlow.” I was DYING to recreate this meal. I googled like a mad woman when we got back and for several days… in utter disbelief that there was not a SINGLE recipe online for perlow. What the hell you guys?! Is this some secret southern society food? Is this some secret recipe that people only get from family and never publish it or share it?! I just couldn’t believe it. But in my disbelief, I gave up.After awhile, I finally forgot about it. Then Christmastime 2015 came around and it was time for the Christmas party again. And what do you think the boss’ wife was making again this year? That’s right… PERLOW. I again ate way too much and tried to guess what was in it. It seemed relatively simple (it is by the way) and I figured okay I can totally figure this out. I had intended to bring our holiday card to the party, and completely forgot. So I asked Matt to forward me the email from his boss regarding the Christmas party because I knew it contained their address. And there it was you guys. Right there in the subject line of the email: “Pilau Dinner.” WHATTTT? PILAU?! No WONDER I couldn’t find it! In what crazy world is the word pilau pronounced perlow? Seriously?! So of course, I instantly googled it and instantly hundreds of variations appeared on google. I mean it was like a GOLD MINE of pilaus. So many different varieties and choices and I was in heaven.I figured out from the majority of them that it was relatively simple and few ingredients. Onion and celery. Rice and Chicken. Chicken stock and salt and pepper. I mean honestly you guys. This was borderline embarrassing. But I didn’t care. I found my pilau! I tried different ratios and methods until I finally found my favorite. This recipe is for a simple chicken pilau with lima beans but as you can see, I’ve also made it with peas (which is delicious). It is the simple dish that you never knew you were missing until you have it. My mouth is watering right now as I think about it, and I’m adding the ingredients to my list to take to the grocery store tonight because I need to make this again ASAP.
I love this dish for so many reasons. It’s simple and easy, contains mostly pantry items, and requires minimal hands on time. I particularly love that it is a true comfort food. You eat it and you feel comfort. That to me is the best. I just love it so. Make this, you will NOT regret it, I’m telling you!
- ¾ -1 lb boneless/skinless chicken breasts
- 2½ cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 celery stalk rinsed and chopped (including leaves)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1¼ cups Arborio Rice
- 1 ½ cups lima beans
- In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the chicken, broth, celery, onion, salt and pepper, and bay leaf.
- Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer and cook 20-25 minutes or until the chicken parts are tender. Remove chicken breasts and chop them up, then add them back into the broth.
- Stir in the rice and lima beans. Cover and cook over medium low heat for 20 minutes or until the rice is fluffy and the broth is absorbed.
- Remove bay leaf before serving.