Bulgur, Two Ways

There’s a good amount of bulgur in Armenian food; two of my favorite dishes would be reduced to practically nothing without cracked wheat. When I was growing up, one of my favorite meals to come home to was a very simple bulgur pilaf. Comprised exclusively of bulgur, chick peas and chicken, it’s the definition of comfort food. It’s also completely easy to make.

Bulgur Pilaf with Chicken and Chick Peas
Makes six portions

2 cups bulgur
1 can chick peas, liquid reserved
1 pound chicken (I prefer white meat, but I’ve had this with chicken thighs too)
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup olive oil

  1. Boil chicken in salted water, constantly skimming foam off of surface. When cooked, remove chicken from water with a slotted spoon; cool, and julienne. Reserve liquid.
  2. Sauté the bulgur in butter over medium heat; add olive oil and salt to taste, and continue sautéing. Add six cups of reserved chicken liquid; if necessary, use boiled water. Cook until the liquid is almost entirely absorbed, about fifteen minutes. If the bulgur is still crunchy, add some chick pea liquid or hot water and continue to cook until soft.
  3. Add the chickpeas and chicken; add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix well and serve.

This next recipe is one that I didn’t grow up with, but it’s still utterly enjoyable. The spices add just the right amount of bite to the bulgur. Just as easy as the chicken and chick pea recipe, this version is both sweet and savory.

Bulgur Pilaf with Dried Apricots
Makes six portions

1 finely chopped onion
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cup bulgur
½ cup chopped dried apricots

  1. Cook onion in oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about five minutes.
  2. Add spices and cook, stirring, one minute. Stir in remaining ingredients with one teaspoon salt and five cups water; simmer covered, until liquid is absorbed, about fifteen minutes. If the bulgur is still crunchy, add some hot water and continue to cook until soft. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, five minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.
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