When a man who owns a wolf invites you to breakfast in Söğüt, Turkey, there is only one response. Which is how I ended up at Palamut restaurant enjoying one of the most elaborate and savory spreads of my life.
Breakfast in Turkey is a serious matter, and our table reflected it. Pots of honey, jam and flavored tahini. An overflowing basket of bread. Multiple cheeses, sausages and cured meats. Tomatoes, cucumbers and olives. Plus menemen, a staple dish of scrambled eggs and peppers.
But my host, Semih Sueri—who had approached me the day before while his friendly year-old wolf, Bozkurt, waited on a dock nearby—insisted on showing me more. Sueri also ordered three kinds of soup. And still he wasn’t finished.
A sizzling, ornate skillet arrived at the table. It contained saç kavurma, some of the most tender beef I’ve ever eaten. The thin slices, coated in a subtly sweet sauce of onion, green pepper and tomato, melted in the mouth.
Saç kavurma historically was made with lamb or goat in the times of nomadic Turkic tribes, though these days it’s as likely done with beef. The name comes from saç, the thin, two-handled iron pan the dish is cooked and served in, and kavurma, which refers to the cooking method of frying or sautéing (and likely shares an origin with Indian korma).
“I slice the meat very thin, like leaves,” says chef and owner Ali Osman Öztürk. “Others do it in chunks, which is the Turkish style. But if it’s thin it’s more tender.” He also trims the meat well and browns it in oil and butter to both add richness to the sauce and prevent overcooking.
The sweetness comes from slow-cooking the onions with the beef, while sweet peppers and ripe tomatoes contribute some liquid to the sauce but retain their bite.
A sprinkle of oregano and chili flakes adds depth to a simply delicious dish that comes together in minutes. Flatbread or rice is a fine accompaniment, with no need to add three soups, a buffet-worthy spread or a wolf.