[Sca-cooks] 15th C. Ottoman Bulghur w/Chestnuts

ranvaig at columbus.rr.com ranvaig at columbus.rr.com
Wed Sep 19 20:11:32 PDT 2007

>Bulghur - Based on my reading of other recipes, it is likely that the
>Ottomans prepared bulghur either with broth or water. Broth would be
>more flavorful, so that what i plan to do. It is quite edible if just
>soaked in liquid and not actually cooked over a fire. Modern bulghur
>pilavs simmer the bulghur about 25 min. But if i can keep a burner
>free, that would be nice. Any opinions, based on cooking and/or
>eating bulghur, as to whether i should just soak the bulghur in hot
>broth (which would free up a stove burner) or actually put it over
>the fire?

Most of the recipes that I've seen call for boiling water or stock poured over the bulghur, letting it rest for 20 mins or so but not actually cooking it, then draining.  That's how I've made it.  I'd do a test batch with the particular bulghur you buy, because time will depend on the size.

You still need a burner to heat the broth/water, and its likely to take longer than you expect.
And use a vegetarian broth if you hope to serve it to vegetarians. 

>Chestnuts - Again, i know you and i are working blind, pretty much,
>but i'm asking for non-Ottoman food experiences... I could just stir
>roasted and peeled chestnuts into the cooked bulghur. But i figure
>the chestnuts would be more tender if i simmer them in broth after
>peeling them, then stir them into the bulghur. (i may be able to get
>packs of peeled chestnuts which will save wear and blistering on my
>fingers) Any opinions?

You can buy frozen roasted and peeled chestnuts.  The ones stashed in my freezer are from Trader Joe.  I'd look into that, because it is a major pain to peel the inner skin.  It takes me an hour or more for a pound. The peeled ones were cheaper too.

>Fat - Sheep tail fat apparently figures in a lot of the actual
>Ottoman recipes. But i'd like this dish to be edible by any
>vegetarians who attend. Butter is an option, as it was frequently
>used. Olive oil was NOT used in Palace cooking, just for oil lamps.
>On the other hand, there are folks here with genuine health related
>food issues - a need to reduce cholesterol intake. So i'm considering
>oil - obviously not olive. I'm wondering if sunflower oil would be
>too off-base to use. As far as i can tell, the Ottomans didn't use
>it, but i won't use canola, since nearly all grown in the US is
>genetically modified. Opinions?

I'm not sure where you would find tail fat anyway.  It comes from a special breed of sheep.  I don't think any old sheep fat would be the same.

They couldn't use Sunflower oil, since that is a New World food.  If you are going to use any oil at all, I'd use olive oil, or perhaps sesame oil if you can find it at a good price.  Maybe they didn't use olive oil in the palace cooking, but I'll bet the cooks used it in the dishes they cooked for themselves.  If you use sesame oil, DON'T buy the dark Chinese kind.


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