Robyn and Douglas Kalajian
Doug and I have been experimenting with some of our favorite Armenian recipes to reduce fat and cholesterol. We've taken the traditional recipe for kufteh — Armenian stuffed meatballs — and replaced the ground lamb and butter with ground turkey and olive oil. We think the results are pretty darn good! Serve with plain yogurt, a chopped salad, and pita bread.
Try it. If you still prefer the old style, just substitute ground lamb or beef for turkey — but be sure it's very lean and ground three times.
Note: The amounts for the seasonings (coriander, allspice, salt, pepper, and paprika) are suggested amounts and can be adjusted to your preference.
*Note: If you have leftover filling, it can be used as an omelette filling, or as a filling for phyllo dough triangles. If you have leftover shell mixture, roll them into balls, and cook them along with the rest of the kufteh.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and seasonings.
Spray another skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Brown the ground turkey breast until it is no longer pink, about 8-10 minutes.
Combine the cooked turkey with the onion mixture. Adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Place in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Fill a bowl with ice water.
Combine the turkey, bulgur, egg, and oil in a bowl. Season with the ground coriander and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Mix thoroughly with your hands. To make the shell, take enough of the mixture to resemble the size of a large egg. Make an indentation with your thumb, pressing until the shell is as thin as you can make it without falling apart.
Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling in the indentation. Dip your hands in the bowl of ice water. Continue to shape the shell carefully, making sure it holds together and the filling doesn’t come through. Continue the shaping process until all of the filling and shell mixtures are used up.*
Cover and chill the shaped kufteh until ready to cook. Fill a large pot 2/3 full with water. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the remaining salt. Carefully lower a few kufteh at a time into the water, and reduce heat to medium. Do not crowd the pot.
When the kufteh rise to the top, allow them to cook 3-4 minutes longer to make sure the shell is thoroughly cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain excess liquid. Keep warm until all are cooked. Serve with plain yogurt and garnish with a sprig of parsley.