What goes in your bog? Here’s a look at the local favorite’s rustic roots

The annual Loris Bog Off is this weekend.
The annual Loris Bog Off is this weekend.

Did you know early bog dishes could contain squirrel?

This fall, when you make your bog, get some inspiration from Horry County’s past on this favorite regional dish.

A bog, typically made with chicken these days, is the historic fuel of the Independent Republic of Horry. The one-pot recipe helped feed the original settlers in the area and continues to thrive in local restaurants and in family kitchens.

The bog even has its own local festival every year.

L.W. Paul Living History Farm gave a demonstration Thursday to the public on how farm families made chicken rice from 1900 to 1955. Farm staff also showed wood cutting tools. The simple dish consists of chicken, rice, water, lard, onion, salt and

Horry County Museum Director Walter Hill said the dish can be traced back to the 1700s. Hill cites an 18th century journal entry that describes a group of travelers making a “pileau” or bog around a campfire one night, but with squirrel as the meat.

“The beauty of this dish was that it could be made out of anything you had available and cooked up in one pot,” Hill wrote in an email.

In addition to being easy to make, Horry County also was one of the largest producer of rice early in the 1700s. A key component of a bog is the rice pilaf, which has its roots in Middle Eastern cultures.

Hill said French travelers probably brought pilaf to the area.

Almost all of the core ingredients for a bog are preservable without modern refrigeration. Cured meats, onions and even rice can be kept for long periods of times through natural preservation methods. And only needing one pot made the cooking of a bog simple.

The dish had everything to satisfy both the early settlers of Horry County and the modern ones, too. Even with the rapid growth, local restaurants like The Crafty Rooster keep the dish regularly on the menu.

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The bog, typically made with chicken, bacon and sausage instead of squirrel like in the old days, remains a staple food for the area.

Every fall, Loris hosts its Bog Off which challenges local cooks to make the best bog. This year the Bog Off is being held Oct. 20 and there is still time to sign-up for the professional or amateur competitions.

While every bog recipe probably has its own twists, Discoversouthcarolina.com has a good base recipe on its website if you’re looking to try making it for yourself.

Traditionally, the dish is served with the bones still attached to the meat, but modern adaptations are often changing this rule.

“If the cook tends to be a little more primitive in the cooking methods, they will cook the meat down in the pot with seasoning, then when the meat is cooked, rice and sausage is added to the pot and cooked until done,” Hill wrote.