The following story and recipe come from Chef Dan Janjigian, as a special to the Armenian Mirror-Spectator.
As soon as I read his story, I contacted Chef Dan (aka Jiggy) for permission to share this with The Armenian Kitchen. He happily obliged, and, mentioned that his brother, Andrew, is a baker, artist and writer for Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen. Hopefully, Andrew will permit me to share his story with you, too. So, stay tuned!
Kofta By Dan Janjigian Special to the Mirror-Spectator
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — As an Armenian-American chef, I am constantly looking for ways to integrate the dishes and flavors that I grew up with into my menus. This recipe was born out of that desire in the catering kitchen. When I make these koftas, they’re usually small, about two bites and served on a skewer as a passed appetizer at events, dotted with a dill-cucumber raita, or a thick jajik.
When I’m at home, I prefer to eat it in Syrian bread with a lightly dressed cucumber and tomato salad.
If gluten is an issue, you can substitute cooked quinoa for the bulgur in equal proportions, it adds a different texture as an added bonus.
- 1 lb ground lamb or beef or a combination of both
- 1 small yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup fine bulgur wheat or quinoa
- 1½ tsp Kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp. harissa paste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ bunch flat leaf parsley (chopped fine)
- In a small bowl, combine the bulgur wheat with 1⁄4 cup of warm water and set aside. If using quinoa, follow box instructions to cook, then set aside to cool.
- Peel and dice onion and garlic and pulse about 8-10 times in the food processor until the purée is wet. Move the purée to a fine strainer and set over a container to catch liquids as they drain off the mixture. After about 10 minutes, lightly press the mixture with a spatula to push out remaining liquid.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the onion purée, chopped parsley, cumin and a few grinds of black pepper, about 1⁄2 teaspoon. In the container with the onion water, add salt and harissa paste and stir to incorporate.
- Using your hands, combine everything together and massage until well mixed and smooth. Form into oblong shaped balls and grill over high heat until medium or to your liking.
Dan Janjigian grew up in Westwood, Mass. and has lived in Jackson Hole for the last 15 years. He works as a catering chef and was recently voted “Best Chef” in the 2020 Best of JH competition. When he is not cooking, he spends his time exploring the Teton mountain range where he works as a backcountry ski guide in the winter months.