The word pilau refers to a rice dish that has been prepared in a seasoned broth of onions and vegetables and served with shellfish, chicken or game. It arrived with African slaves and is very popular in the Caribbean and Southern states.
This rich, savory Lowcountry "per-loo" is a Charleston favorite.
2 lb. fresh shrimp, heads and shells on
2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1⁄2 cups long-grain rice
3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 375°. Remove heads and shells from shrimp and refrigerate meat. Combine heads and shells with 1 chopped onion, carrot, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 20 minutes.
Place roasted vegetables and shells in a large pot with 1 quart of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, discard solids, and reserve broth.
Cook bacon until crisp in a large pot, drain on paper towels. Sauté green pepper and remaining onion in same pan, in bacon fat, for 10 minutes. Add rice and cook until transparent, about 5 minutes. Season with pepper. Add tomatoes, parsley, and 2 1⁄2 cups shrimp broth. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, adding more stock if rice gets dry.
Add shrimp to rice, cover, and cook another 10 minutes. Stir in bacon and serve.