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Meat Boregs – Detroit Style

By Robyn and Doug Kalajian
FLArmenians Cuisine Contributors

After two years of preparation and anticipation, the 111th Diocesan Assembly and Clergy Conference in beautiful Boca Raton concluded on Sunday, May 5, 2013.

Boreg-Lahmajoun Table

It was a whirlwind week of events with hundreds of attendees from Mid-Western, East Coast, and Southern states. In addition to the planned sessions and meetings, guests participated in luncheons, kef time (featuring the music of Johnny Berberian), area sightseeing, and a gala banquet honoring Armenians of the Year – Janet and Edward Mardigian, and Friend of the Armenians – former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. The week-long gathering culminated with a lavish farewell Sunday brunch for departing Very Rev. Fr. Nareg Berberian of St. David Armenian Church.

I had a mini part in the grand scheme of things, but it was exciting just the same. Many of our seasonal visitors rolled up their sleeves alongside local parishioners to help create the massive menu for the farewell brunch.

Serving stations were set with assorted salads, yalanchi, lahmajoun, cheese boregs, meat boregs, and hummus. A carving station offered sliced-to-order roast beef, ham and turkey. Desserts included kourabia cookies, paklava, semolina cakes, fruit kabobs, and more. The beverage station served-up Mimosas (orange juice and champagne), plain orange juice, and coffee to help wash everything down.

Weeks before the brunch, I was at church working on another aspect of the preparation while a group of seasonal parishioners from Detroit were in the kitchen making the meat boregs. They made Dolly Matoian’s recipe which came from St. John Armenian Church (Detroit) cookbook. This is not a ‘home version’ recipe as it yields 375 to 400 boregs, and requires 20 workers over a 2-day period to complete.

Desert Table

Instead of using phyllo dough or puff pastry, the dough was more chorag-like. The meat filling had a nice ‘kick’ from the blend of black pepper and cayenne pepper in the filling. I got to sample a test boreg as it came out of the oven – it was soft, warm, and so delicious!

I have made an attempt to break down the large-group recipe for the home kitchen, but be warned – I have not tested this version. The new ingredient amounts represent 1/8th the original recipe measurements.

The smaller recipe should yield about 45 to 50 boregs, and I would suggest having one or two extra pairs of hands to assist. Oh yes, it’s important to prepare the meat mixture one day in advance.

Please don’t be discouraged by the lengthy recipe. One thing is for sure, I can certainly appreciate the time and effort the Detroit ladies put into this recipe, and I truly did savor every bite!

Here’s the (untested) home version recipe…

Detroit-Style Meat Boreg

Meat Boreg (Beoreg)

Yield: 45 to 50 pieces

Filling Ingredients:

1 lb. chopped onions

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 ¾ lbs. ground lamb

1 ¾ lb. ground sirloin (or chuck)

¾ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

½ tsp. paprika

¾ lb. (3 sticks) butter

¾ c. dried parsley (or 1 cup fresh, chopped parsley)

Dough Ingredients:

¼ lb. (1 stick) butter

¼ cup vegetable shortening

1¼ c. milk

5 eggs

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. dry granular yeast

½ cup warm water

2 ¼ tsp. sugar

1 ½ tsp. salt

3 ¼ lb. all-purpose flour (approx. 12 cups)

Egg wash:

2 eggs, beaten


Regular or black sesame seeds


Day 1:

1. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet. Saute onions until soft, but not mushy. Strain onions in a colander, pressing firmly to remove any liquid. Set aside until ready to use.

2. In a large frying pan, cook lamb and beef over medium heat until brown. Break meat down with a fork to remove any large lumps. Strain out any excess fat.

3. Place cooked onions and meat in a large mixing bowl. Stir in all of the seasonings. Taste for flavor and spiciness. Make any adjustments, if necessary.

4. Melt the butter in a skillet and add to the meat-onion mixture. Finally, add the chopped parsley.

5. Place mixture in shallow containers; cover and refrigerate until day 2.

Day 2:

Directions for Dough Preparation:

1. Melt butter and shortening in a saucepan. Allow to cool. Add milk to butter mixture; set aside.

2. Using a hand or stand mixer and a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until well-blended.

3. Begin adding flour, a little at a time, to the egg mixture for a uniform mixture.

4. In a medium bowl, combine the ½ c. warm water, yeast and sugar, whisking to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof.

5, Add proofed yeast to the flour mixture and knead dough well.

6. Using a food scale, portion the dough into 1 ½ to 2 oz. portions; place on trays, cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper and allow to rest.

7. Portion the meat into 1/12 to 2 oz. portions.

8. On a work surface (no flour should be needed), roll each dough portion into 4-inch circles, and place on platters.

Forming and baking the boregs:

9. Hold each round of dough in one hand; top with meat mixture. Pinch or fold the dough over the meat to completely seal the filling.

10. Place – seam side down – on parchment-lined baking sheets. Lightly press down to make a bun shape instead of a ball shape. Continue the process until the trays are filled. Allow boregs to rest about 15 minutes before baking.

11. Bake in preheated 375°F oven (350°F for convection oven) until golden.

12. Place baked boregs on cooling racks; cool completely. If not serving immediately, place borges in freezer bags in single layers, and freeze until ready to use.

13. Prior to serving, defrost boregs in the refrigerator, and bake in preheated 325°F oven until warmed through.

Robyn Kalajian is a retired culinary teacher and Chief Cook at Douglas Kalajian is a retired editor/journalist and Sous Chef at


Archbishop Khajag Barsamian Primate of the Armenian Church of America to Visit Boca Raton’s St. David Armenian Church


St. David Armenian Church

Boca Raton, Florida

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Primate, Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America

will celebrate Holy Badarak

Morning Service – 9:45 a.m.
Holy Badarak – 10:30 a.m.

Immediately following Holy Badarak a light luncheon will be served at

Mardigian Church Hall
2300 Yamato Road, Boca Raton, FL

Please join us in welcoming our Primate to our Church.

Feast of Assumption, Grand Reopening of St. David Sanctuary & The Blessing of Grapes


Boca Raton, FL – On Sunday, August 14, 2011, St. David Armenian Church reopened the sanctuary after a six-week and a half renovation. More than hundred people gathered in the morning for the celebration of the Feast of Assumption and to see the newly remodeled Sanctuary of our St. David Armenian Church. The Service started at the Church Hall with the participation of 15 young sub-deacons of our Church. At the end of the Service, Fr. Nareg along with the young altar servers and choir led the congregation to the entrance of the Church. The Opening of Gates ceremony “Ternpatsek” followed. As the doors of the sanctuary opened, 200 people stood in awe to see the newly remodeled St. David Sanctuary. Their eyes sparkled like precious gems and their spirits were energized as they stepped into the magnificent Sanctuary following the lead of our Pastor, the Very Rev. Fr. Nareg Berberian, altar servers and choir, singing “Voghormoutiamp ko tourn patz mez Der,” which means, “With your Mercy, open the door for us, O Lord.”

Fr. Nareg ascended on the Holy Altar with the altar servers to continue the Holy Badarak.

Prior to his sermon, Fr. Nareg said, “For the first time we are gathered in our magnificently renovated Sanctuary and Narthex on the celebration of the Feast of Assumption.

“As you are marveling at the beauty of our sanctuary, I am certain that the founding fathers of our community are rejoicing with you from heaven. This Church was built by their vision for the enrichment of our faith and culture. They successfully passed their vision to our present generation. Today, it is your responsibility to continue enriching their vision. It is the duty of every Armenian to take part in this project through his/her donation. This is your Church. This Church offers you spiritual, cultural, educational, and social programs. Without this Church, we have no identity and with no identity we are lost in the vastness of this world. There are thousands of Churches in South Florida. We are identified as an Armenian by our own Church. When we say, “I am a member of St. David Armenian Church,” we are identifying where we come from, to whom we belong, who we are and what we are.

“It is not enough to be proud of your heritage and faith. You must be active by sharing your talents and gifts. Being a visiting church attendee is not enough. We have more than 10 thousand Armenians in our county. A sense of belonging must grow among our people.

“Look at the beauty of this Church. As we entered the Church for the first time, we sang “Ourakh Ler,” hymn, which means, “Rejoice O Holy Church.” God is rejoicing today for beautifying His house. Is there anything more rewarding than this? This is the pride of the Church. The next generation will be grateful for the beautification of our sanctuary. Now, we have a clean, neat and bright Church, free of mildew and humidity odor. It is my hope that our present visionaries will be great role models for our youth who understand the Church is a place of worship and fellowship.

“I thank Sita Ohanessian who donated $42,000 towards this project in memory of her parents, Ohannes and Sirpouhi Ohanessian. I thank some of our parishioners for financially supporting this major undertaking. I am certain that we will offset all the expenses through the generosity of our parishioners.

“I am grateful to our Parish Council Chairman, Armen Melkonian, who oversaw this project on a daily basis spending days and nights and even providing food for the workers. He was instrumental in selecting these beautiful tiles, the marble and the medallions. He has great taste in modeling designs. It is a pleasure to work with Armen. We have the same vision, same dedication, same taste, same thinking, and strangely enough we share the same birthday. Armen is a wonderful leader and a great chairman.

“During his chairmanship, we have accomplished major constructions and renovations:

1. The Mardigian Chuch Hall was installed with faux marble;
2. A New Khatchkar was installed;
3. A New pavement was installed in front of the Church entrance;
4. A New Church sign was installed; and
5. The Sanctuary and the Narthex were installed with faux marble.

“All these changes happened within a few years.

“I am also grateful to Andrew Merjian, a member of the Parish Council, who is responsible for building the two beautiful candle boxes. Andrew spent countless hours in helping with this project. He is also responsible for installing the new wainscot panels in the Narthex. We are fortunate to have him in our Council.

“One candle box already has a sponsor. They are Drs. Andy and Rosemary Mencia. The other candle box is waiting for sponsorship.

“I am grateful to the members of the Women’s Guild headed by Carol Norigian and the members of Choir headed by Nina Stapan. They spent many hours cleaning the sanctuary. George Stapan and Andrew Merjian painted the wainscot panels in the Narthex.

“I thank Hagop Alikhanian who worked very hard during the renovation. He is a great man.

“There are more people who are worthy of recognition and will be mentioned during the luncheon.

“We truly have wonderful Parish Council members and parishioners who are always ready to help the Church and its mission,”

Then a sermon was delivered. Fr. Nareg spoke about the greatness of Mary in the New Testament and in Church history, in particular in the life of the Armenian people. He emphasized that Mary revolutionized the role of womanhood in the society. Following the sermon, the Blessing of Grapes ceremony followed. With a great enthusiasm, people gathered at the Mardigian Church Hall for a special luncheon to celebrate both the Feast of Assumption and the grand reopening of our Sanctuary.

Armen Melkonian, the chairman of the Parish Council, raised the cup of wine and gave a toast to the people and said, “Thank you for your support and encouragement. We truly are fortunate to have such a beautiful sanctuary. We are thankful to Fr. Nareg for his vision, guidance and leadership in our Parish. We are grateful to a Parish Council member, Andrew Merjian for making two candle boxes in the sanctuary which was designed with marble, and for installing the decorative wainscot in the Narthex of the Church.”

At the conclusion of the program, Fr. Nareg thanked the chairman of the Parish Council, Armen Melkonian, for closely overseeing and sharing his input in the project.