One-of-a-kind Detroit-Style Meat Boregs (Photo courtesy of St. John’s Women’s Guild Cookbook, Armenian Cuisine: Preserving Our Heritage)

One-of-a-kind Detroit-Style Meat Boregs


This recipe from The Armenian Kitchen’s Robyn and Doug Kalajian for Detroit-Style Meat Boregs is adapted from a recipe by Dolly Matoian at St. John’s Women’s Guild in Southfield, Mich. Dolly’s original recipe can be found in the Guild’s outstanding cookbook, Armenian Cuisine: Preserving Our Heritage.

“A little over 10 years ago, the 111th Diocesan Assembly and Clergy Conference was held in Boca Raton, Fla. It was a whirlwind week of events with hundreds of attendees from mid-western, east coast, and southern states. In addition to the planned sessions and meetings, guests participated in luncheons, a kef time (featuring the sensational music of Johnny Berberian), area sightseeing, and a gala banquet. The week-long gathering culminated with a lavish, elegant farewell Sunday Brunch,” says Robyn.

“Many of our attendees rolled up their sleeves alongside the local parishioners to create the massive menu for the brunch. Serving stations were decorated and set with many assorted salads, yalanchi, lahmajoun, cheese boregs, meat boregs, and hummus. A carving station featured sliced-to-order roast beef, ham and turkey. Desserts included kourabia cookies, paklava, semolina cakes, fruit kabobs, and more. The beverage station served tasty mimosas (orange juice and champagne), plain orange juice, and coffee to help wash everything down.”

“For this dish, instead of using phyllo dough or puff pastry, the dough was more chorag-like. The meat filling had a nice ‘kick’ from the blend of black pepper and cayenne pepper in the filling. I got to sample a test boreg as it came out of the oven – it was soft, warm, and so delicious. I have made an attempt to break down the large-group recipe for the home kitchen but be warned — I have not tested this version. The new ingredient amounts below represent 1/8th the original recipe measurements,” adds Robyn.

“This reduced recipe should yield about 40 to 45  boregs. I suggest having one or two extra pairs of hands to assist in the kitchen. It’s important to prepare the meat mixture one day in advance. Don’t be discouraged by the lengthy recipe. One thing is for sure, I can appreciate the time and effort the very talented Detroit ladies put into this recipe, and I truly did savor every wonderful bite,” she says.

Here’s Robyn’s (untested) home version recipe:

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Filling ingredients:

1 lb. chopped onions

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 3/4 lbs. ground lamb

1 3/4 lb. ground sirloin (or chuck)

1 tablespoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup fresh chopped parsley


Dough ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup milk

4 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon dry granular yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup warm water

2 – 2 1/2 lbs. all-purpose flour (approx. 7 1/4 to 9 cups)


Egg wash: 2 eggs, beaten

Topping: Regular or black sesame seeds

Day 1:

Directions for filling preparation:

Heat vegetable oil in a skillet. Sauté onions until soft, but not mushy. Strain onions in a colander, pressing firmly to remove any liquid. Set aside until ready to use.

In a large frying pan, cook lamb and beef over medium heat until brown. Break meat down with a fork to remove any large lumps. Strain any excess fat. Place cooked onions and meat in a large mixing bowl. Stir in all of the seasonings. Taste for flavor and spiciness. Make any adjustments, if necessary. Melt the butter in a skillet and add to the meat-onion mixture. Finally, add the chopped parsley. Place mixture in shallow containers; cover and refrigerate until day 2.


Day 2:

Directions for dough preparation:

Melt butter and shortening in a saucepan. Allow to cool. Add milk to butter mixture; set aside.

Using a hand or stand mixer and a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until well-blended. Begin adding flour, a little at a time, to the egg mixture for a uniform mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine the 1/2 cup warm water (110-115ºF), yeast and sugar, whisking to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof. Add proofed yeast to the flour mixture and knead dough well.

Using a food scale, portion the dough into 1 1/2 to 2 oz. portions; place on trays, cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper and allow to rest. Portion the meat into 1 1/2 to 2 oz. (or about 1/4 cup) portions. On a work surface (no flour should be needed), roll each dough portion into 4-inch circles, and place on platters.

Forming and baking the boregs:

Hold each round of dough in one hand, top with meat mixture. Pinch or fold the dough over the meat to completely seal the filling.

Place – seam side down – on parchment-lined baking sheets. Lightly press down to make a bun shape instead of a ball shape. Continue the process until the trays are filled. Allow boregs to rest about 15 minutes before baking. Brush tops lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with regular or black sesame seeds, if desired.

Bake in preheated 375°F oven (350°F for convection oven) until golden. Serve immediately. If not serving immediately, place baked boregs on cooling racks; cool completely. Place cooled boregs in freezer bags in single layers, and freeze until ready to use.

Prior to serving, defrost boregs in the refrigerator, and bake in a preheated 325°F oven until warmed through.

Yield: 40-45 boregs

Purchase today:

Armenian Cuisine: Preserving Our Heritage Cookbook

Over 450 tested recipes from the Detroit metropolitan Armenian community, updated using modern techniques and equipment. Detailed description of cooking and baking methods including tips for preparation. The cookbook has a wipe-clean cover that lays flat when opened. This cookbook is made to last and will be a treasured addition to your collection. $35 with free shipping. To order, go to:

Consider a donation to support the mission of the Women’s Guild of St. John Armenian Church. Women’s Guild strives to nurture fellowship and service to our Church and community through a variety of activities and events. Your funds will help us continue outreach activities in Armenia such as sponsoring orphans and supporting Mer Doon, which provides young women with a safe home and instructs them in life skills.

For information, contact:

Women’s Guild of St. John Armenian Church, 22001 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, MI 48075



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