Saturday, December 1, 2012

Macaroni with Fried Meat

A simple, yet direct, request was sent to me by reader, Pam: “Please send recipe for Armenian macaroni with meat, done in oven.”
Before I could send Pam a recipe, I emailed her asking for a better description of the dish. I thought she might have been referring to manti - the tiny boat-shaped dough with ground meat filling - that's baked in the oven. 

Alas, no.
I gave this some more thought and suggested the Greek recipe Pastitsio - pasta, meat, tomato, topped with bechamel sauce, then oven-baked.

Again, no.
Pam said the recipe she was seeking was made with spaghetti, meat, tomato. All together in oven.

I told her I’d see if there was anything else I could find, although I really didn't know of a specifically Armenian recipe for spaghetti, meat and tomato baked in the oven.
 After researching, I sent Pam this message: “I found a recipe in my copy of Rose Baboian's Armenian-American Cookbook that might be what you're looking for. Please take a look and see if I'm getting close.”

After reading the recipe (see below), Pam wrote: “Yes, I think that's it! Thank you so much! Can't wait to try it!”
I was going to post the recipe after Pam made it so I could include her evaluation, but she’s in Armenia right now.

So while I await her return, I figured I’d make it for dinner. We hope to hear from Pam later on.

My version was a bit different from the original. The changes I made are listed below Rose Baboian’s recipe.
The Armenian Kitchen's version of  Macaroni with Fried Meat 

(Baked) Macaroni with Fried Meat, from Rose Baboian’s Armenian-American Cookbook’
(Dabgadz Misov Macaron)
Yields: 4 servings

Sauté: ½ lb. ground meat (lamb or beef) in ¼ cup butter or margarine for 5 minutes. Stir constantly.
Add: ¼ cup (1 small) finely chopped onion. Continue browning 5 to 8 minutes more.

Mix in:  
¼ cup finely chopped green pepper
2/3 cup finely chopped canned tomatoes
6 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. water
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. allspice
1 clove finely chopped garlic, optional
1/8 tsp. Aintab red pepper (or paprika mixed with a little cayenne pepper)
¾ tsp. salt

Bring to a Boil, then Simmer about 5 minutes.
Boil: 3 quarts water with 1 ½ Tbsp. salt.

Add: ½ lb. macaroni of your choice.
Cook: according to package directions; Drain.

Mix together: with meat mixture.
Spread: into a 9”x9” baking pan.

Bake: at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes. Stir once or twice during baking. Serve hot.

Most of  my ingredients
Here are the changes I made:      
I omitted the butter in the meat-cooking step. Any excess fat was drained from the skillet.

I used: ½ cup diced red peppers, 1 cup diced tomatoes with liquid, 3 Tbsp. tomato paste, about ½ cup water (or more to make it more sauce-like), farfalle (bow-tie) pasta, and  increased the seasonings (except the salt) according to our taste.
Shhh: I secretly added a splash of Marsala wine to the sauce! J

Plain yogurt was served on the side.
Our evaluation: It reminded us of Manti in casserole form. Pretty good, really, and very easy to prepare!


  1. penne macaroni,ground beef or turkey,jar of sauce (i like Barillo sauce) one chopped onion, two cloves of garlic,you can add oregano or basil, parm. and shredded mozzarella cheeses.
    If I use ground turkey i use wheat macaroni. Also I add cinnamon to the ground beef or turkey. After cook and drain macaroni. Little oil add onions and garlic then sauce. In casserole dish mix sauce and macaroni. Top with the cheeses. Bake until cheese melted and slightly browned. sandy

  2. This is a very common dish in Lebanon (at least, I have eaten it many times when I was young--er). I suggest the following mods:

    Add a handful (1/4 cup) pine nuts to the meat with the onions. Also add the allspice, black pepper, and red pepper at that time. Add the chopped garlic towards the end.

    Instead of the green peppers, my mom used to put green peas. Just a little will do.

    Use egg noodles, though of course any pasta will do. Don't forget to butter the pan.

    Instead of mixing everything together, lay down a layer of pasta, then add the meat, then a final layer of pasta.

    Put shredded parmesan (or a similar cheese) and bread crumbs on the top, for a gratinee effect.

    I like the Marsala wine. It is easy for this dish to come out dry if you do not make sure that the meat mixture is moist. Alternatively, I think you can mix shredded mozzarella or another creamy cheese with the pasta (though it is a bit overkill for me).

  3. My mother-in-law makes a similar dish but all done on the stove top. Yummy indeed. Maybe the baking gives it a bit more crunchiness on top? I'll have to give this a try!

  4. I could eat this every day
    not get sick of it!