Rose Nahabedian’s Sou Bourek

Recipe Corner: Chef Rose Nahabedian’s Sou Bourek

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This recipe originally appeared at Better Homes and Gardens (https://www.bhg.com/recipe/sou-bourek/).

Michelin-starred chef Carrie Nahabedian credits her beloved Grandma Rose Nahabedian from Chicago for teaching her about Armenian cooking and preparation. “Our grandmother cooked every day,” she says. “She made her own yogurt, her own bread, her own phyllo. I believe that our moms and grandmas are the people who learn and pass on these family food traditions to their children.” She has carefully preserved her family’s recipes, including this version of Sou Bourek, a delicious layered egg noodle and cheese bake. (See: Barbara Hansen’s December 1999 interview, “Something About Carrie” at: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1999-dec-08-fo-41602-story.html).

Chef Carrie Nahabedian, center, in the kitchen at Brindille. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune)

Carrie began cooking in high school, when she would go to her Grandma Rose’s house every week and learn a new dish until she had cooked through her grandmother’s entire repertoire. She would measure her grandmother’s hand to learn the amounts of salt or olive oil to be used in a recipe. “My mother Helen cooks so tremendously, and my Grandma Rose, who passed away in 1991, was known in Chicago as the queen of Armenian cooking.” Carrie learned how to make pilaf, yalanchi and other dishes from Grandma Rose, and has clipped recipes from both women to the back of her favorite Armenian cookbook (Armenian Cooking Today by Alice Antreassian [St. Vartan Press, 1989]). ”Everyone in our family cooks and entertains with great style and flourish. I don’t like shortcuts or not putting your best foot forward all the time.”

Growing up Carrie was influenced in her cooking skills by her mother and by celebrity chef Julia Child. She described watching Child as “like watching an artist painting.” She began her culinary career with a three-year apprenticeship at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Chicago. She then moved to Atlantic City to become assistant chef at the Resorts Casino Hotel when it first opened. Starting off as a cook at Chicago’s Ritz-Carlton, she quickly rose through the industry ranks, eventually mastering fine dining in both the hotel setting and at iconic Chicago restaurants like Le Perroquet, Le Francais and Sinclair’s.

Carrie was a protégé of Jean Banchet at Le Francais, Jovan Trboyevic at Le Perroquet, and Fernand Gutierrez at the Four Seasons. She was Chef de Cuisine of La Tour at the Park Hyatt, and served an Executive Chef for Four Seasons in Chicago, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

Carrie and her cousin and business partner, Michael Nahabedian in Chicago

After leaving the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, Carrie returned to her native Chicago to open NAHA in 2000 with her cousin and business partner, Michael Nahabedian. NAHA garnered them a James Beard Award. “We were blessed to have such great support from the Armenian community not only in Chicago, but across America. Many times, we hosted the Archbishop’s appeal for the Diocese,” says Carrie.

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“NAHA had eight consecutive Michelin one-star awards before closing in 2018 after 18 years. We held a successful NAHA promotion at the Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanhamet, where we met many people from the now modern city of Sivas, home of our grandparents,” says Carrie. “It was a memorable experience cooking in Turkey.”

In September 22, 2009, Carrie was inducted into the Chicago Culinary Museum and Chefs Hall of Fame with Mayor Richard M. Daley declaring that day as “Carrie Nahabedian Day in Chicago.” She has served as a longstanding board member of Green City Market, Chicago’s largest farmer’s market. In 2013, Carrie opened Brindille in Chicago with her cousin and business partner Michael Nahabedian.

Carrie and Michael created Kostali by NAHA at The Gwen Hotel featuring coastal Mediterranean cuisine, in 2019. While NAHA served to highlight her Armenian roots, Brindille’s refined Parisian fare celebrates the Nahabedian cousins’ favorite spots in Paris. Michael’s brother, Tom Nahabedian oversaw its architecture and interior design. He is also a James Beard winner, earning the 2016 Outstanding Restaurant Design award for his work with Brindille. “Grandma Rose was a cherished grandmother and teacher to me, my cousins Michael and Tom, and to my sisters, Cathy and Chris who also work at the restaurants,” adds Carrie.

Ingredients:

3 medium eggs

Nice pinch of kosher salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 – 2 cups all-purpose flour

Butter, softened

1 2-pound brick Muenster or Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

1 pound small curd cottage cheese

4 medium eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup melted butter

 

Preparation:

For dough: Crack the three eggs into a large bowl and beat with a whisk attachment until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add a nice pinch of kosher salt and one tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil; beat one minute more. By hand, stir in 1 1/2 cups of the flour. (Dough should be sticky.) On a lightly floured surface knead in more of the remaining 1/2 cup flour until it is a soft, silky dough and makes a smooth ball. Divide dough into six equal portions and shape into balls. Place them, not touching, on a sheet pan or the counter; cover with a towel and let rest for at least two hours.

For noodles: Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling. Using additional flour on the work surface as needed, roll out each dough portion into a thin round, approximately 10 inches in diameter. (It is a very fragile dough; use more flour as needed.) Plunge a dough round into boiling water for 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove and plunge into cold water. Pat dry with paper towels; set aside. ”I like to drizzle them with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking,” Carrie says. Repeat with remaining rounds.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 13×9-inch ovenproof dish. In a very large bowl, mix shredded cheese and cottage cheese together with the four beaten eggs. Divide cheese mixture into two bowls; stir parsley into one.

Place two noodles into the prepared dish, overlapping slightly; brush with some of the melted butter. Spread the cheese-parsley mix over the noodles. Top with two more noodles. Brush with some of the remaining melted butter. Spread plain cheese mixture over noodles. Top with the remaining noodles and brush with remaining butter. Dot the top of the dish with additional pieces of butter. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Let cool before cutting into squares. Serves 8.

3Carrie’s mother, Helen Nahabedian, and Brindille pastry chef Craig Harzewski

Mock Sou Bourek Recipe:

Omit steps 1 and 2 and cook 16 ounces dried wide egg noodles in lightly salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain. Layer with cheese mixtures as directed, using one-third of the noodles in each layer and drizzling with melted butter before topping with cheese mixture. Bake as directed.

 

References:

https://www.chicagomag.com/chicago-magazine/may-2014/chicagos-best-new-restaurants/brindille/

https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-food-restaurant-coronavirus-brindille-opening-0731-20200731-flylrmmu35foxcjyz66b3xk3ga-story.html

https://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/ct-food-brindille-restaurant-review-0123-story.html

https://robbreport.com/food-drink/dining/kostali-carrie-nahabedian-opens-chicago-2882366/

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/5-female-chefs-who-continue-to-inspire-chicagos-food-scene

https://festival.si.edu/blog/armenian-recipe-sou-boreg-cheese-casserole

https://fooditor.com/lets-do-lunch-with-carrie-nahabedian/

Brindille

534 North Clark Street

Chicago, IL, 60654

For reservations, call: (312) 595-1616

Website: brindille-chicago.com

Social media: Facebook: Carrie Nahabedian or NAHA Restaurant or Brindille; Twitter: @cnaha or @naha-chgo or @brindille-chgo

For Armenian recipes by Carrie Nahabedian, go to: https://www.jamesbeard.org/chef/carrie-nahabedian

James Beard Foundation – Adventure Traveler

Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning chef Carrie Nahabedian has visited 80 countries, principalities and islands. She says journeys have helped her elevate her cooking. Oftentimes she finds ways to give back to people in other countries through philanthropy and mentoring. See her video at: https://interactive.wttw.com/chefs-off-the-clock/carrie-nahabedian

For Carrie’s Armenian Shish Kebab and Armenian Rice Pilaf recipes, go to: https://www.jamesbeard.org/chef/carrie-nahabedian

For “Carrie Nahabedian, The Michelin-starred chef, 62, on post-riot rehabbing, the two types of line cooks, and the best advice she ever got,” Chicago Magazine, October 2020, go to: https://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/October-2020/Carrie-Nahabedian/

Copyright 2021 ©Carrie Nahabedian. All rights reserved.

 

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