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Heriseh/Keshkeg - An Armenian Recipe

Updated on December 4, 2011
Serve keshkeg with melted butter, cumin and ground pepper
Serve keshkeg with melted butter, cumin and ground pepper

A little bit about Keshkeg

My family calls it "Keshkeg" because that's what they called it in Palu, Armenia where my maternal grandmother was from. Others call it Heriseh (Hair-ee-seh), but it's the same thing. This is a much-loved old Armenian recipe. You can make this with chicken, or it's great made with the leftover turkey carcass/meat. There are not hard and fast measurements to it, but I'll do my best to explain.

Ingredients

Pelted Wheat is wheat with the hulls removed.
Pelted Wheat is wheat with the hulls removed.
I used 4 cups of pelted wheat with a whole turkey carcass.  However, if you're using 3 chicken breasts, or a whole chicken, you can use 2 cups of wheat.
I used 4 cups of pelted wheat with a whole turkey carcass. However, if you're using 3 chicken breasts, or a whole chicken, you can use 2 cups of wheat.
Here's the wheat after it has swollen overnight.
Here's the wheat after it has swollen overnight.

Here's what to do

You can use chicken to make your keshkeg....or you can use the leftover turkey carcass as well. So naturally, what you choose will depend on how much wheat you use. Pelted wheat is wheat with the outer hull removed. You can buy it at the middle eastern market. It's also called "dzedzadz" in Armenian.

Keshkeg (or heriseh) is always made after Christmas and Thanksgiving (when we make turkey). In order to make a big batch, I used 4 cups of wheat in my photos. This recipe makes a very large batch...but if you want to just make enough for 6 - 8 people, you can use 2 cups of wheat. It all depends on the amount of meat/broth you have.

Soak the wheat in a pan overnight. It will swell to two times its volume. The next day, drain the wheat and rinse. This recipe takes many hours...so it's a great crockpot recipe. You can cook this over the course of 8 hours on low.


2-4 cups pelted wheat

1 whole chicken - or - 1 turkey carcass with leftover turkey meat

1 stick butter, melted

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

Ground cumin

Directions

Boil the turkey carcass, or your chicken (whichever you're using). You can also do this recipe using 3 good sized chicken breasts. Boil until the meat falls off the bone. Cool, remove the meat from the bone, discard the bones, and shred the meat into small pieces.

With the swollen wheat in the pan (or crock pot), add your meat and enough broth to fill your pan about two inches above your wheat. Save the broth because you'll add to it the mixture as needed.

Turn on the heat to medium/low and simmer this with cover on. It will take several hours. You're going to simmer, stirring every 1/2 hour in the beginning, and more often as the wheat absorbs the broth and cooks. Add salt to taste. Add more broth if it seems too thick. You don't want it to be too thin, but more like a porridge consistency. If you've added too much broth and it's a little runny, then cook with the lid off to allow it to evaporate out a bit.

Continue stirring to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Before you serve you can use a hand blender to blend it (just a bit), to a smoother consistency.

Melt a stick of butter. Serve hot keshkeg in bowls with melted butter drizzled on top, ground cumin and freshly ground pepper. Serving suggestion with tossed salad, feta cheese and pita.

Serve with melted butter, freshly ground pepper and ground cumin.
Serve with melted butter, freshly ground pepper and ground cumin.

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