Sunday, November 8, 2015

HAJIMOM’S DZEDZADZS – A Meat and Wheat Casserole

I had the pleasure of chatting with family friend Ruth Bedevian while on our visit to NJ in October. She asked if I’d ever heard of a recipe called ‘Dzedzadzs’. I knew that dzedzadz (spelling varies) was a grain used in preparing 'herisseh' aka keshkeg, the national dish of Armenia, but I'd never heard of it as a specific recipe.
Dzedzadz- Shelled Wheat

Ruth had her family’s recipe and offered to share it with The Armenian Kitchen. This was handed down from her great-grandmother, Anna Bakalian-Najimian, who was  born in Dickranagerd in 1839, and died in 1939 at age 100 in Cliffside Park, NJ. Ruth didn’t know her great-grandmother but had heard stories about her from family members.

Mrs. Najimian was called ‘Hajimom’ which Ruth said was “derived from being a ‘haji’(having made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem evidenced by the blue tattoo on her right arm) and from being the ‘mom’ or surrogate mother.”


Ruth stated:
“’DZEDZADZS’ means “something beaten” in Armenian. Hajimom taught my mother, Alice, to make this dish when she was a new bride. I am sure that she used lamb, but I have always used beef. The beef has to be less lean to give the right taste.

I have searched in over a dozen Armenian cookbooks and have not found this recipe. I suspect this was Hajimom’s own special creation or some Dickranagertsi specialty. Our family has always included Dzedzadzs on the Thanksgiving table."
Dzedzadzs Casserole
Once you've tried this recipe, you'll want to make this part of your Thanksgiving (or any holiday) menu, and start your own family tradition!

Please see my reduced-amount version below.

HAJIMOM’S DZEDZADZS – Meat and Wheat Casserole
Serves 10-12

INGREDIENTS:
Dzedzadzs rinsed and draining

3 CUPS GORGORT (Shelled whole grain wheat), rinsed and set to drain
3 LBS. GROUND BEEF (75  80 PERCENT LEAN)
3 TABLESPOOONS SALT
3 TABLESPOONS GROUND CORIANDER (“KEENZ”)
4 TABLESPOONS ALLSPICE
1 TEASPOONS PEPPER
1 BUNCH FRESH ITALIAN PARSLEY, CHOPPED
 8 LARGE ONIONS, CHOPPED

DIRECTIONS:
COOK THE GORGORT FOR 1 HOUR IN 2 QUARTS WATER. LET STAY IN THE        POT, COVERED FOR AN ADDITIONAL HOUR.  {Nowdays I cook it in the crockpot for 23 hours.}
BROWN THE MEAT WITH THE SEASONING UNTIL WELL COOKED. 
MIX THE COOKED GORGORT WITH THE BROWNED MEAT MIXTURE.  YOU MAY  FREEZE AT THIS POINT OR OTHERWISE, CONTINUE: ADD THE CHOPPPED PARSLEY AND ONIONS AND MIX WELL. 
POUR INTO A SHALLOW ROASTING PAN OR CORNING WARE (12” x 15.”) 

BAKE UNCOVERED AT 350°F FOR 1 / 2 HOUR.
*******
Since I was cooking for 2 instead of 12, I cut Hajimom's recipe down considerably. Here are the proportions and techniques I used to serve 4:

Hajimom’s Dzedzadzs, ala The Armenian Kitchen
Serves 4
The Armenian Kitchen's Dzedadz topped with Yogurt

Ingredients:
1 cup gorgort (shelled whole grain), rinsed and drained
1 lb. ground beef (85% lean; 15% fat)
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. freshly ground coriander seed (keenz)
2 tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1 large onion, chopped



Directions:
Cook the gorgort in 3 cups of boiling water; reduce heat to medium and cook, partially covered, for 45 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat, cover the pot, and allow gorgort to sit for 30 minutes so it continues to soften.

In a large skillet, add 1-2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil. Sauté onions until slightly softened. Add ground meat and seasonings; cook until meat is crumbly and browned. Drain most of the excess fat. Stir in the chopped parsley. Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Lightly coat a shallow baking pan with vegetable spray. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Serve with a dollop of thick, plain yogurt.


Our evaluation: Delicious! Its taste reminded us of kufteh. Ruth didn't mention anything about draining the fat after the meat was cooked, but I did in my version. It came out a bit on the dry side which is why I served it with yogurt - a nice touch, if I do say so myself. Or, maybe next time, I'll bake it covered. 
We’ll definitely make this again. Many thanks to Hajimom and Ruth!

Update: I contacted Ruth in regard to draining the fat after the meat has cooked. She explained that Hajimom, her own mother, and she never drained the fat; that's what keeps the dish moist and somewhat juicy!

No comments:

Post a Comment