Recipe Corner: Kharpertsi-style Kufta from Fresno

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Recently, the Armenian Cultural Conservancy (ACC) of Fresno hosted its third annual Armenian Heritage Culinary Arts Class in the Armenian-American Citizens League Hall (AACL) at the California Armenian Home (CAH) Guild.  The featured recipe was traditional Kharpertsi-style kufta from Fresno – so celebrated, yet made less often in Armenian homes today. There are many versions of stuffed kufta recipes throughout the Middle East, but this is one of the most traditional.  Kharpertsi-style kufta is stuffed with ground beef, onions, pine nuts, and spices, and boiled, and is usually served in a bowl with the cooking broth. (These same kufta, made smaller and in the shape of mini-footballs, may be baked or deep fried and served as an appetizer.)  Students and guests enjoyed a kufta lunch, including salad, cheese boureg, bourma, and persimmon cookies.  Each attendee received a printed recipe and additional kufta to take home, along with memories from a morning of fellowship and learning about Armenian culture and traditional cuisine.

 

These kufta are best served with rice or bulgur pilaf, yogurt, Armenian salad, cheese, olives, roasted peppers, and fresh lavash or pita bread.

 

KUFTA FILLING (“POR”)

4 lbs. ground lean beef

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3/4 lb. butter

5 lbs. chopped onions

Spray frying pan with oil and add 1/8 cup water.  Add 4 lbs. ground lean beef and brown, chopping and stirring until it is the consistency of taco filling (30 minutes.).  When the liquid has dissipated, place the meat in an 11 x 17 baking pan and bake at 425 degrees, uncovered for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add 3/4 lb. butter, cut up.  When melted, add 5 lbs. chopped onions, and cook about one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cook until onions are soft and transparent (no longer crunchy).

Take out of oven and add: 1 bunch chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper (fine), 1 tablespoon sweet basil (rahan), and a dash of cayenne pepper.  Stir and chill overnight.

The Kufta Team from left: Suzanne Barton, Jeanette Machoian, teacher Patty Kalajian, Margaret Tejerian, and Janice Maroot

Break up the filling before using a scoop to make balls of filling the size of a walnut.  Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and freeze.  Then bag for future use or use frozen.

KUFTA SHELL (HOBART MIXER METHOD)

Outer Shell:

5 lbs. ground lean beef (like meat used for kheyma, this must be triple-ground)

3 lbs. fine (#1) bulgur (cracked wheat)

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon white pepper

Begin with 32 oz. of cool water in mixer.  Add 3 lbs. fine bulgur and beat for approximately 20 minutes. (Make sure mixture is softened thoroughly and not sticky to touch.)

Add 5 lbs. meat and beat at least 10 minutes.  Gradually add another 32 oz. of cool water and beat another 20-30 minutes.  Add more water if consistency calls for it.

Use 1/4 cup measure for uniform amount for each ball.  Make like a “pinch pot” making walls thin.  Place a ball of filling and close, shaping into a ball.  Place on a tray lined with parchment paper.

To serve, make a broth and salt to taste.  Add tomato sauce, if desired.  Drop kuftas a few at a time and cover until it comes to a boil.  Then take the lid off and continue boiling until kuftas float to the top, about 15-20 minutes.  Use a strainer spoon to remove kuftas so it won’t puncture the balls.  Serve with or without broth.

Yield: Approximately 75 kuftas or 6 dozen.  Freeze overnight, then store in freezer bags.

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