İçli Köfte–Stuffed Bulgur Shells

I don’t know about you, but I have different recipe folders organized in a way that I only understand and can find.  One folder in particular (let’s call this folder “Will Try” folder)  has all the recipes I want to try making, some are few years old and some are very recent.  I don’t have any particular system of queuing them, it’s basically when and where my food desire leads me! 

My friend Brenda sent me today’s recipe many years ago (in fact it’s back from May 2008!!).  The recipe came from a friend of Brenda who has a Turkish food blog.  The recipe immediately spoke to me, but I wasn’t able to try it until today!  One thing I can promise you is that I will always get to my recipes in this “Will Try” folder!

İçli Köfte, is a Turkish food made from bulgur shells.  The best description of İçli Köfte is :  meat filled fried bulgur croquette;  but it’s more than that.  You may initially have a difficult time making İçli Köfte if  you are unaccustomed to making dumplings, samosas, or any other food that requires filling to be folded into dough-type shell.  However, you will quickly learn and it’ll become easy (believe me!). 

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Yields about 25-27
For the Shell Mixture:

3 cups bulgur (finely grounded)
2 medium boiled potatoes
1 cup semolina
4 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons red pepper paste
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoon salt
1 cup oil for frying (or as much as it takes)

For the Stuffing:

1 pound ground beef (96% lean)
1 large onion (chopped finely)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup parsley (chopped finely)
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon  black ground pepper

To Prepare the Stuffing:

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the ground beef and cook until the beef is no longer pink. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until onions are transparent. Add the salt, cumin, black pepper and the chopped parsley and mix well. Remove from heat and set aside. You can always prepare the stuffing ahead of time (make sure you strain  the cooked meat in the strainer so that the oil drains).

To Prepare the Shell:

Soak the bulgur in warm water in a large bowl and cover. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Mash the boiled potatoes in a separate bowl. Add all the shell mixture ingredients including the potatoes and start kneading. Have a small bowl of water handy, because you will need to dip your hands in the water while kneading. Keep kneading for 15-20 minutes (longer if necessary) until all the ingredients are mixed well and the shell mixture is soft enough to give a shape.

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From here I deviate from the instruction, because I found an easier way  to stuff the meat into the shell (easier, at least for me). 
Keep a separate bowl with water in it (you’ll need this to frequently wet your hands to shape the shell).
Take an egg size piece from the bulgur mixture, with wet hands flatten the piece so that it semi covers your palm (I have smaller hand).  Fill about 2 teaspoons of meat filling in the center.

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With wet hands close together the sides and encase the filling by molding the shell so that it’s roughly 1 inch in width and 4 inches in length.

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Repeat until all the bulgur mixture is gone.  While you work, just lay a damp paper towel/kitchen towel over the shells so that they don’t dry out. 

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Heat the oil in a large pan. When the oil is ready, add the stuffed shells and fry both sides until they are golden brown. 

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My opinion:  My family gobbled up these Turkish delicacies!!  The meat filling is nicely flavored, the shell was very nice, but next time I will add a little bit of salt and pepper.  Next time, I will make the shells thinner (I wasn’t too sure if thin shells can withstand deep frying, but this shell is strong!).  We dipped our shells into tzatziki-like sauce.  It looks like this can be used for appetizers, but I had about 3 of these and it was quite filling.    I consider this a true Turkish Delight!!

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