Bulgur pilafs can be prepared in numerous ways in Turkey. This pilaf includes both chicken and vegetables. Traditionally, Turkish pilafs are made with either lentils, chickpeas, vermicelli, orzo pasta, vegetables, lamb or beef. The chicken worked out perfectly in the pilaf, however, if you prefer, you may substitute with beef or lamb. I actually liked the chicken in the pilaf as it is lighter than beef.
This recipe was given to me by my sister who created this dish for a Christmas party. I was not sure how the pilaf would turn out with the cranberries and the lemon juice, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how the combination of flavors turned out. In Turkish cuisine, currants and raisins are widely used, especially in pilafs, so the cranberries were not foreign in the pilaf. The lemon juice also provided a mysterious pleasant taste that left you wondering where it is coming from. This pilaf can be eaten as a meal by itself as it includes grains, vegetables and meat all in one dish.
After my husband ate this pilaf, he began teasing me that my sisters are naturally good cooks and it must be something running in the family. I think he is right as both my sisters enjoy cooking as a hobby and every once in a while contribute to my blog by either giving me recipes or ideas. It sounds like, only if we were all together, we could start a restaurant!
1 ½ lb ground chicken
1 yellow onion (chopped)-optional
1 green bell pepper (diced)
2 ripe tomatoes (peeled and diced)
½ cup dried cranberries (tart & sweetened)
1/3 cup brown lentils
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
5 cups of chicken broth or water
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
In a large pot, heat olive oil and place the chicken. Cook until the chicken is cooked or takes a whitish color; stirring occasionally. Add onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add lentils and sauté approximately 5 minutes. Add cranberries, green peppers and tomatoes. Squeeze the lemon on top and sauté another 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and let it boil. Add the bulgur, the salt and the black pepper and cook covered on medium heat for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed in the bulgur.
Decorate with pickled small peppers, parsley and onion. Serve warm.