Perloo came to the New World from France (where it was known as pilau) and is kin to a pilaf or paella. It is most well known in the low country of South Carolina and combines rice and tomatoes and whatever meat you’ve got handy together in a single pot. In this case, I’m using shrimp but chicken, sausage and even mushrooms will work to make a filling and delicious dish.
The two tricks with this dish is to first make a stock. The process isn’t that much to turn the shells or bones into fragrant stock and it will add layers of flavor once the rice has absorbed every drop. The second is to be sure to sauté the rice before adding the tomatoes and other liquids so that it doesn’t get mushy and each individual grain is soft and tasty.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
The shells from 3 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 onions, quartered
2 celery ribs, chopped roughly
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon peppercorns
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
5 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup white wine
4 cups shrimp stock
3 lbs large shrimp
For the stock: Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add shrimp shells, onion, celery, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until shells are pink, about 10 minutes. Add water, peppercorns and bay leaves. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain shrimp stock through fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids.
For the Perloo: Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion and celery and cook until vegetables are beginning to soften, 7-10 minutes. Add rice, garlic and seasonings and cook until fragrant and rice is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, the wine and 4 cups shrimp stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
Gently fold shrimp into rice until evenly distributed, cover, and continue to cook 10 minutes longer. Remove pot from heat and let sit, covered, until shrimp are cooked through and all liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Serve.