Dining at the Turk’s Inn was always a special event. There were many fine supper clubs in the Hayward, Wisconsin area when I was in high school, but the Turk’s Inn was at or very near the top of the list. It was the place you took your Prom date to, so you started saving money right after the Christmas Ball. Enough said.
The Turk’s Inn was owned by George and “Ma” Gogian. It was a family operation. George was the perfect host who made sure that everyone was treated as a special guest. “Ma,” his wife, was the chef, and their daughter Marge oversaw the tables in the dining room.
George and Ma are both gone now, but Marge greets guests and does her best to maintain the high standards set by her mother and father. When we had dinner there a couple of years ago, the cocktails were excellent, my steak was perfect and the pilaf was just as wonderful as ever.
At the Turk’s, pilaf meant coarse cracked wheat or bulgur sautéed in butter, simmered in broth and seasoned only with salt and pepper. Pilaf is commonly made with rice, but if you want something deliciously different that has only five ingredients and is ridiculously easy to make, try the Turk’s pilaf.
When she was in high school, my sister Barbara worked at the Turk’s. She taught me how to make their wonderful pilaf. I can’t swear that my recipe is identical to the pilaf I had with my steaks at the Turk’s, but it tastes just like the extra serving Marge brought brought me two summers ago. It is so good that I sometimes wonder if “manna” really really refers to the ancestral version of the Turk’s pilaf.
1 cup bulgur (or coarse cracked Durham wheat)
3 T butter
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a skillet with tight-fitting lid. Raise the heat to medium and add the bulgur or wheat. Stir with a wooden spoon to coat every grain and toast it lightly. Add the broth, salt and pepper and mix well. Bring to boil, turn the heat to low, cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed,. Remove from heat and let stand a few minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
NOTE: Ken Bjork emailed to say that adding half cup of chow mein noodles to the pilaf before serving it gives it some extra crunch and flavor. It is one of his family’s favorites. The Turk’s daughter, Marge, included a half cup of broken up chow mein noodles in the recipe as well.