Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bulghur for Boneheads

Bulghur wheat varies so much, it's practically recipe-proof. You never know quite how what you have in your kitchen relates to what the writer of the recipe had in their kitchen. There's bulghur, there's the (sometimes) different cracked wheat, there are fine, medium, and coarse grinds of both, and there are both red and white varieties. It can be spelled bulghur, bulgur, bulgar, burghul, burghal, birghil, etc, etc, which makes it hard to google recipes. Add to all that the fact that one man's medium grind is another man's fine, and you have an unpredictably and eccentrically named group of ingredients. Cooking one kind of bulghur with a recipe meant for a different kind can lead to bad results. Well-made bulghur can be fluffy and tasty and nutty. Poorly-made bulghur can be soggy and pasty, or tough and hard to chew.

So, to help with this situation, here is a very specific recipe that makes surprisingly delicious bulghur. For best results, follow the instructions precisely. You can never tell what will make the difference between transcendent food of the gods and demoralizing slop. Precision is essential.

1. Have your mother buy a 24-oz bag of Goya Brand Enriched Coarse Bulgar Wheat/ Kiepe-Ble Grueso Enriquecido in a New England seaside town. Instruct her to remove half of the bulghur/ bulgur/ bulgar, and dispose of it as she chooses. It's best if she makes tabbouleh/ tabouli/ tabbooli and takes it on a picnic.

2. Take the uncooked remainder on a 77-mile drive in a five-year old car. Do not stop to pee.

3. Store the bulghur in a cool, dark place for three months.

4. In a twenty-five year old saucepan that has been packed and moved at least 11 times, combine one cup of bulghur, one and three-quarters cups water, and a teaspoon of salt.*

5. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Let it boil, covered, for two minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit, covered, for twenty minutes. During this time, be overcome with curiosity twice, and quickly lift the lid for a peek. The second time, poke it gently with a fork. Feel slightly guilty.

6. Toss the bulghur with a fork, and then mix in two tablespoons of olive oil.*

7. Eat while warm, or let cool and use in a salad.

If you must, you can try adapting this recipe to your local bulghur brand, just remember: Soggy is bad. Tough is bad. Salt and oil are good!

*This is delicious, but it's not exactly fat-free or low-sodium, (although it's still a lot better for you than a bag of Doritos and a Mr Pibb). If you have salt-sensitive hypertension, bless your heart, you can leave out all the salt. If you're, um... allergic to fat, leave out all the oil. If you're just a moderate kind of person and these amounts seems crazy, halve the salt and oil. It will probably still be pretty good. But if you leave out all the salt and all the oil, and don't have a compelling medical reason to do so, you deserve exactly what you get. The nicest thing you'll be able to say about it is, "My, it tastes so... healthy!"

No comments: