hamburger helper bulgur pilaf with cool cucumber sauce

Most of the bulgur pilaf recipes we have been enjoying are healthy vegetarian comfort food dishes, but as long as we admit to occasionally still eating dead animals, we cannot deny that once in a while a little cooked cow doesn't also find its way into our pilaf. This tasty version was a treat from sister-in-law nora (learned from her mom), which evoked bob's memories as a young adult, one who must confess to having used more than once an infamous American product "hamburger helper" in a box that you add to ground beef to make a quick hot meal, like its friend "tuna helper", which was even quicker since the tuna did not have to be cooked first. Unlike the animal parts helper product line, no shame need be felt in offering this one to guests.

The accompanying cool watery yogurt-mint-cucumber sauce is an excellent contrast to the hot pilaf. The in-laws and wife put it in a little dish and spoon it directly into the mouth at regular intervals while ingesting the pilaf, but bob pours it right onto the plate next to and even on top of the pilaf for maximum effect. While attracting strange looks around the table, this culture clash does not interfere with the enhanced eating experience.

ingredients

phase 1
1 lb ground beef
2 T butter
1 big onion, chopped
phase 2
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
phase 3
4 c water
1 T (heaping) tomato paste
1/2 t (heaping) red pepper paste (mildly hot, or add a touch of cayenne pepper if not)
1/4 t black pepper (or to taste)
1 t salt (or to taste)
1/2 t (heaping) allspice
2 c bulgur wheat, number 4 (half-cut or "big bulgur")
side sauce
yogurt
water
salt
1 clove garlic, minced
mint
1 cucumber, diced

instructions

  1. In a skillet with the melted butter, break apart the hamburger with a wooden spoon or whatever to mince it up and separate as it begins cooking.
  2. Then add the chopped onion, stir around, and then cover and lower the heat until the liquid (butter, fat and onion sweat) are absorbed (about 30 minutes).
  3. Add the phase 2 veggies and cook for a minute or two at medium heat.
  4. Then add the phase 3 stuff (water, bulgur, spices), bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and cook until the water is absorbed (about 20 minutes).
  5. Meanwhile, chop up a skinned cucumber into tiny pieces, or even grate it, and mix up some yogurt with a few cups of water to a still watery consistency and add the cucumber and spices and chill. Ice cubes can be added to ensure better chilling, although melting leads to a consistency change unless the guests wolf down their food quickly enough. We'll have to experiment to get the ingredient quantities right.

notes

  1. Bulgur notes are available in a previous recipe.
hhblgr.htm: 25-oct-2003 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]