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Archive for October 2010

Bulgur Croquettes with Walnut-Tomato Sauce

Remember the recipe for baked honey chicken wings that turned me into a selfish glutton? From the book laden with kid-friendly recipes? “Anne, Ben Aciktim” which from Turkish is “Mommy, I am hungry” is the name of the  book to blame. As the name suggests, it gives busy moms .. ahem.. (modesty aside) like myself, relief from raking their brains in search of recipes that would make their little ones happy. Being a selfish glutton, it so happens that I also look for recipes that would make me happy at the same time. For the second time in a row, the book proved that we can have it all – kids happy, the glutton mom even happier! These bulgur croquettes from the book are so darn good! They are even better dipped in walnut-tomato sauce jazzed up with dried herbs.

If you are not familiar with bulgur (alternative spellings: bulghur, burghul)  it is a form of whole wheat, that has been cleaned, parboiled, dried and crushed into small pieces. Because it has been parboiled, bulgur cooks very quickly. Depending on how fine the wheat grains are crushed, there are two main types of bulgur in the market – fine bulgur, good to use in meatballs and meat patties, and coarse bulgur, meant for pilafs. This particular recipe is made with fine bulgur which only needs a few minutes of soaking to become tender. The rest is easy. Scroll down to read the recipe and see for yourself. Enjoy!

Bulgur Croquettes with Walnut-Tomato Sauce
Adapted from “Anne, Ben Aciktim” by Sahrap Soysal

For the Croquettes:

2 cups fine bulgur
1/2 cup semolina (if not available, substitute with flour, but semolina is preferred)
2 cups  hot water (to soak bulgur)
1/2 pound (about 500 g) ground beef
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 medium onion, grated
1 egg
1 tablespoon sweet red pepper paste or 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or use a combination of the two)
1 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
Ground cumin, to taste (do not overdo)

1 cup corn oil, to fry

For the Walnut-Tomato Sauce

2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and pureed (if the tomatoes are not ripe and juicy, add 1 tablespoon tomato paste to the sauce as well)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic gloves, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon finely crushed dried mint or basil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup walnut, finely chopped

First, prepare the croquettes: Put the bulgur and semolina (or flour) in a medium mixing bowl. Pour 2 cups of hot water on top and cover with a plate. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the bulgur is soft. Add the ground meat, walnuts, onion, egg, pepper paste or/and tomato paste,  salt, pepper and cumin. Knead thoroughly until the mixture is smooth and paste-like, about 5 minutes. Put the mixture in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Put the pureed tomato and if using, tomato paste, olive oil, crushed garlic, dried herbs in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts.

Now, make the croquettes. Taking an egg-size of the mixture at a time, squeeze it in your hand, shape it into a ball, then into a sausage. Continue in this way, until all of the mixture has been used.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium frying pan. Fry the croquettes in the oil, turning once to cook on all sides. Remove form the pan. If you wish, drain on paper towels. Serve with the walnut-tomato (you can warm it up or use cold) sauce.

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