By Becky Billingsley
Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, Myrtle Beach - Say "Bog Balls" to someone who isn't familiar with the Horry County delicacy of Chicken Bog, and they might think you're slinging an insult.
Most people who know and love Chicken Bog, or Pilau, as it's called in Georgetown County, haven't yet heard of Chicken Bog Balls, but they are a new treat quickly gaining fame at Socastee Station in Myrtle Beach.
For the uninitiated, Chicken Bog's roots began in Antebellum days when this area had dozens of rice plantations. Then and now local residents are rice eaters, and the traditional dish evolved from when a big cast iron pot of rice with game meat was a dinner staple for field workers.
As time passed and fewer people hunted, chicken edged rabbit, duck and venison out of the pot. Slicing up smoked sausage and chunking that in the mix added just the right spiciness to give the meal character.
And that, basically, is Chicken Bog: rice, chicken and smoked sausage.
In Georgetown County an almost identical dish is called Pilau (pronounced PERlow). The main difference is that more liquid is used, making the grains more separate and less sticky, or boggy.
But it took two fellows from Pittsburgh to come up with Chicken Bog Balls, and they seem to be starting a new tradition, judging from the dish's popularity.
Ed Flambard and T.J. Allinder took bought Socastee Station in the fall of 2011, and they've quickly become known for their friendliness and eagerness to please customers. The bar is filling back up with old regulars who used to frequent the spot before the original popular owner and founder of Socastee Station, the late Gary Pagliaro, sold the restaurant to a new owner, who then sold it to Flambard and Allinder.
The men are also becoming known for their food. The menu is a pleasant combination of finger foods, home-style dining and Italian specialties. They serve Pierogies and Quesadillas, Meatloaf Sandwiches and burgers, Pittsburgh style salads (greens, cheese, tomatoes, croutons, onions, fries and bacon), Lasagna, Pot Roast and Baked Haddock.
And there's the Chicken Bog, which can be ordered as an entree for $7, and it comes with white bread and a side salad; or as Beer Battered Chicken Bog Balls. The appetizer is so delicious, it's making those who try it wonder what took so long for someone to think of shaping chicken bog into balls, dipping them in beer batter, deep-frying them, splitting them in half and serving them with a creamy and spicy dipping sauce akin to remoulade.
A hearty portion is served for $5.
Socastee Station is at 4504 Socastee Blvd. in Myrtle Beach, and the number is (843) 831-0527. It's open starting at 10 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays.