♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Today on "America's Test Kitchen," it's an ode to Armenia.
Bridget makes Julia lahmajun, Jack explores the world of lentils, and Dan makes Bridget vospov kofte.
It's all coming up right here on "America's Test Kitchen."
♪♪ -Long before pizza came around, Armenians were making savory flatbreads topped with meat and vegetables, called lahmajun.
And today Bridget's going to tell us more.
-Oh, I absolutely love these.
These are so thin and crisp, still tender, and covered with that beautiful meat paste.
All good words.
-We're going to start with the dough.
We have 3 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour.
Now, that's about 16 1/4 ounces.
-And you want to use an all-purpose flour, if you can, that is a little higher in protein, a little higher gluten.
So, something like a King Arthur would be great.
But these will still be fine without King Arthur flour.
They're not just going to be as crisp.
-So, to this, we're going to add 1/8 teaspoon of instant, or you can use rapid-rise yeast.
So, just going to put on the lid here, and we're going to let this whirl for a couple seconds just to mix everything about.
So, next, ice water -- 10 ounces.
I just like to keep ice up till the last moments, get it out of there.
Keeping everything cold is the name of the game here.
I'll add the water in a slow, steady stream.
Then I'll let it mix until the flour is incorporated.
That's only going to take about 10 seconds.
-So, we're going to leave this for 10 minutes.
-We're not adding any salt at this point, because the salt and the flour compete for that water.
We want the flour to have access to the water so it can start to develop a little gluten.
-So, again, 10 minutes.
Alright, it's been 10 minutes.
-Not much has changed.
-[ Chuckles ] -But a lot's going on on the inside.
There's a lot of gluten that's started to develop.
So, now we can add a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
We can add our salt at this point.
This is a teaspoon and a half of table salt.
So, I'm going to let this go for about 30 to 60 seconds, until the dough really comes together.
It's going to look a little shaggy, though.
Enough of that.
You can see that the dough is really shaggy.
It doesn't look smooth at all.
-Oh, yeah, it's quite sticky.
-So, it is a little sticky.
-I do need it to come together, and I want to use a lightly oiled countertop here -- -Ha!
-...instead of flour.
At this point, we don't want to add flour to the dough because it's a really nice ratio in there.
So, at this point, got lightly oiled hands.
Just going to lightly bring this together, just kneading it for about a minute.
It's still quite coarse there.
-A little rough.
Now, this is going to make four flatbreads.
So, at this point, gonna take a bench scraper and do my best to cut it right down the middle, and then each half into half, so we got four quarters here.
These are going to be 12-inch flatbreads.
So, what I'm doing is I'm just bringing these together into a nice little ball.
You want to put one together?
I actually do want to get my hands on this dough.
-Look at that beautiful little dough round you did there.
If you wouldn't mind spraying that rimmed baking sheet.
-There you go.
-Alright, so these are going to go onto a sprayed baking sheet here.
And if you wouldn't mind spritzing the tops, too.
Just a little sheet of plastic right over the top.
Alright, and you want to make sure at this point that this is pretty well sealed.
So, these are going to go into the refrigerator for a minimum of 16 hours.
-You can do it 24 to 48 is even better.
-48 hours is magic.
This dough will love you for life.
-[ Laughs ] Alright.
So, I'm going to go put these in the fridge.
Dough is resting in the fridge.
We have plenty of time to work on our flavorful meat topping.
-There's a lot going on here.
-There's a lot going on, and it starts with a bell pepper.
-It's just one bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces.
Got a quarter of a small onion.
-Not a lot.
Just goes right in there.
Got 1/4 cup of parsley leaves, and some of the little tender stems is fine in there.
We have one garlic clove, just peeled.
Tablespoon of tomato paste.
-And then some spices.
This is a teaspoon of ground allspice.
A teaspoon of paprika.
We have 1/2 teaspoon of table salt and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin.
1/8 teaspoon of black pepper.
And 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
-We're also using biber salçasi, which is absolutely essential for this recipe.
It's got a beautiful, roasty red-pepper taste.
And it's basically red peppers of different kinds, depending on the type that you buy, that have been roasted and pureed and then either concentrated or sun-dried.
-It's a beautiful flavor.
This is 2 tablespoons.
It goes right in there.
And now lid goes on.
And we're going to let this whirl for about 15 seconds until it's pretty smooth.
So, that's good on its own, but of course, we got to turn this into a beautiful meat topping.
-So, we've got a little bit of lamb.
-This is 6 ounces of ground lamb.
Now I'm going to break this up into chunks and add it right in the food processor.
Lid goes on.
We're just going to pulse this until it comes together.
That's about 8 to 10 pulses.
Alright, take a look at that.
Isn't that gorgeous?
-Yeah, it looks easy to spread on.
-And a little goes a long way.
So, I'm just going to put this into a bowl.
-Yeah, you getting that?
-That smells delicious.
So, that looks brilliant.
And if you wouldn't mind, hand me that plastic.
-Here you go.
-We're topping that there -There you go.
So, I'm going to put this in the fridge, and you want to let it sit in there until it's really well chilled.
I like to do it up to a day in advance.
So, along with our flatbreads, we're going to make a beautiful little fresh salad.
-Yeah, and you can use it to wrap the flatbreads around.
or you can serve it on the side.
-Oh, that's my kind of thing.
-Yeah, and it's really easy to make.
So, it's going to be a tomato and cucumber salad.
So, we've got an English cucumber here.
I know it's English because it's very polite.
-[ Laughs ] -We're going to cut this lengthwise in half.
Alright, and I'm just going to lengthwise cut these in half again.
Now I want to cut these into pretty thin slices, about 1/4-inch pieces.
So, this is going to go into a colander.
There's a lot of water in these cucumbers.
-There's a lot of water in tomatoes, which we're also adding.
This is two tomatoes that I cored and then cut into 1/4-inch pieces.
Alright, and we're going to add a little bit of salt here.
I've got 3/4 teaspoon of table salt.
-Ah, drawing out the moisture so that when you put this on top of the flatbread, it won't make a soggy mess.
Nobody wants a soggy mess, especially on those crisp flatbreads.
-So, we're going to leave this to do its job for 15 minutes.
What a difference 15 minutes make.
-Yeah, look at all that liquid.
-Drawn out of the tomatoes and the cucumbers.
-As you said, that would make our salad very wet, so we want to get rid of that.
So now we can dress our salad.
We've got 1/2 cup of pitted green olives.
And fresh mint.
This is 1/4 cup of mint leaves that we've shredded.
And then our dressing is 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper.
So, I'll toss this.
So, this is really a salad that you want to dress about an hour before you're going to serve.
Our dough is beautifully rested.
-Alright, and we let these sit out on the counter for about an hour.
That just warms them up enough.
It's going to make it easier for us to work with them.
We've got you set up.
-So, I'm going to give you a dough round here.
Flourless, nice, clean counter?
-No flour on that counter.
-We actually want the dough to stick to the counter just a little bit to help us work it out to that really paper-thin texture.
So, let me do the same here.
So you want to take a little bit of your bench flour... -Okay.
-...and just lightly but evenly flour the top.
It's okay if you get a little bit on the counter.
We're going to take the heel of our hand and just work the dough out to about a 5-inch circle.
Now you can use your rolling pin to gently coax it out to a 12-inch circle.
Again, if you see any big holes in there, just give them a pop.
And if it starts to look misshapen, hey, I'm not gonna tell anyone.
-[ Laughs ] -But if it starts to look misshapen, you can always pick up the flatbread and then just kind of rearrange it on your counter.
-So, we're getting this to a pretty even thickness.
-[ Laughs ] I'm trying!
-[ Chuckles ] -Now lightly flour the top.
I went ahead and floured your peel for you.
-You don't want it to stick to the peel.
So, just start to pull it up gently.
I'm hoping the topping is going to cover some of my inconsistencies here, but I got it to the right size -- 11 inches.
-Yours is beautiful.
Now take a quarter of the filling.
It's about 1/2 cup.
-Just plop it right in the center.
Now, you see these little pieces of plastic wrap?
-We're going to place this right on here.
So, you're just going to kind of work it around... -Okay.
-...using your fingers.
So, leaving just a little bit of dough on the edge.
-Just about 1/8 inch of dough.
-Get it out as far as you can.
-There we go.
-These are going to go into a 500-degree oven.
-Got the rack at the top position.
It's about 4 to 6 inches from the broiler.
We're not using the broiler -- that just lets you know where to set that top rack.
We've got a stone in there.
It's been preheating for a good hour.
And they're going to bake until the topping is starting to sizzle and the crust looks a little golden brown.
That's only going to take about six minutes.
So, what am I looking for?
-Ah, you're looking for a bubbling filling on the top.
The fragrance is overwhelming.
Oh, it's so good.
-It's so good.
There's so much goodness in here, and they are ready to eat straight out of the oven.
-I'm going to take yours up here.
Now let me show you one way that you can serve it.
Of course, we have that beautiful salad that we made earlier.
And a little bit of this just goes right down the center.
That just looks cool to boot.
And then fold it over, and fold it over.
-Just going to slice this right in half.
-How's that looking?
-That looks amazing.
-And there we go.
Mmm, mmm, mmm.
-That fresh hit of cucumber and tomato with that lamb.
The dough itself, it's crisp on the bottom.
-But it's still really tender.
-The flavor is on point.
Bridget, this is incredible.
Thank you for showing me how to make these.
-So, if you want to make these incredibly fragrant flatbreads, make a simple yeast dough in the food processor, blend lamb with a number of spices, and serve with a cucumber-tomato salad.
From "America's Test Kitchen," a classic Armenian recipe for lahmajun.
I love the olives in there, too.
-It's crazy good.
♪♪ -Lentils may be small, but they deserve more attention.
They're delicious, they're nutritious, they're inexpensive, and they're quick to cook -- 15, 20 minutes and they can be ready to serve.
Now, your most basic type, are either brown lentils, which I have here, or your green lentils.
They're very similar.
They have a slightly earthy flavor, a nice, creamy texture.
They can be used interchangeably.
Now, I know I said they're quick-cooking, but I will give you a test kitchen tip that if you want lentils that are creamy and intact, which you do if you're making a salad or a side dish, it's worth soaking them in a little salted water for one hour.
4 cups of warm water, 1 teaspoon of salt per cup of lentils.
They cook up beautifully.
If you're making soup, you don't need to do that.
Now, as excited as I can get about brown and green lentils, French green lentils -- often called lentils du Puy, the region they come from in central France -- even better.
They have a lovely flavor.
The texture's creamy.
They're a little bit shiny.
These are actually kind of worth the extra money, 'cause they're a little bit more expensive, but they're my favorite lentils.
Next up, we have -- big surprise -- these are beluga lentils.
Yeah, it looks a little bit like the caviar.
They've got an earthy, robust flavor.
They do an excellent job of maintaining their texture.
Again, both the green lentils and the black lentils here I would use in salads.
Last but not least, I have red lentils.
So, if you do a lot of Indian cooking, you're familiar with them.
Now, red lentils start out with either a green or brown seed coat that's been removed during processing.
Then the lentils are split.
So this means two things.
One, they cook really quickly, maybe in 10 minutes.
They also tend to lose their texture and become velvety and creamy in dals and soups.
Absolutely wonderful in Indian cooking.
So, lentils prove my point -- good things come in small packages.
♪♪ -Religion and faith can often drive food culture.
For example, meat restrictions placed by the Armenian Apostolic Church led to the development of many vegetarian dishes -- some really great ones, like vospov kofte, which Dan is here to show us how to make.
-So, this is one of those dishes where you're eating it and you just forget that meat even exists.
-Does that ever happen to you, though?
-Yes, usually with mac and cheese.
-With mac and cheese.
So, it's one of those.
So, we're going to get into it.
And it really relies on fats -- -Mm.
-...to give us some of the richness that we're missing, and some beautiful spices.
And it all begins with lentils, so that's we're going to start.
So, I have a cup here of red lentils.
So, they're a little orange in color, but we call them red lentils.
-And these are actually brown lentils that have been stripped of their exterior and then split in half.
-So they look pretty drab on the outside, but they're really beautiful inside.
Because they've been stripped of all of their hull and split in half, they cook really quickly.
So, I'm adding them to 3 cups of water here, and I'm adding the first of our fats.
So, this is 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.
So, we know that meat obviously adds a ton of fat and richness to things, and if you're doing cooking that doesn't include it, you really need to pay attention to the fats you're adding and how much.
And then a teaspoon of salt.
So, I'm going to bring this up to a boil over high heat, and then we're going to lower it and simmer until they're done.
-Alright, so our lentils are up to a boil here.
I'm going to lower the heat to maintain a nice, gentle simmer.
-And I'm going to cover them because we don't want all this water to evaporate.
We're going to need this really nice ratio of water to lentils to bulgur.
I'm going to cover that.
It's going to take about 20 to 25 minutes, and I'll just stir occasionally.
-It's been 25 minutes.
Let's take a look at our lentils.
And you want to see that -- really, really soft.
I'm going to turn off our heat here.
Now we can move to our bulgur.
This is a cup of fine-grind bulgur, and bulgur is basically whole-grain wheat that is parboiled and then dried and then pulverized into different sizes.
So, when you're buying it at the store, that's really the big difference is the size that you're getting.
This is number one, so it's the finest grind.
This is a cup of that.
But I want to show you over here, we have the four primary grind sizes.
This is fine grind, which is very comparable to like a Demerara sugar.
We've got our next up, so this is number two, and this is more like maybe mustard seeds.
Number three is about the size of a sesame seed, and then four is more like kind of a steel-cut oat.
-So, when you go to the store and you're shopping, you're looking for number one.
That's the ideal for this recipe.
A lot of times, you're not going to find that unless you have a really good Armenian market nearby.
So you're probably going to find number two or three, which is totally fine.
We actually have a method where you can use your blender to process it for a couple minutes and get it to the right texture.
-And we have a method for that on our website.
-And to this, I'm going to add our wonderful mixture of just lentils, water, and olive oil.
And just pour that right on top.
So, we're working with a ratio of 3:1:1.
So, that's 3 cups of water to 1 cup each of lentils and bulgur, which is a pretty classic formula for this.
-So that's why you want to cover and keep that water in there.
You don't want too much evaporation.
-And this extra hot water in here is going to hydrate and soften that bulgur.
-So, I'm stirring this together.
Make sure it's nice and cohesive.
So I'm going to set this aside, let that hydrate.
Okay, so we're going to get into our next fat.
We're using 4 tablespoons of butter.
So, I'm going to put this over medium-high heat.
I'm going to melt this butter.
So, now we're going to build a really beautiful aromatic base to season our kofte.
So, we're going to go in with one onion that's been chopped up.
Next, I have a teaspoon of Aleppo pepper.
-This is a gorgeous, gorgeous pepper.
It's really fruity, great chili flavor.
This Aleppo is a must.
It's used extensively in Armenian cooking.
Next up, I have a teaspoon of cumin.
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
1/4 teaspoon of allspice.
-And 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Oh, I can already smell it.
-We're going to cook this for about 8 to 10 minutes.
We want it to get really nice and softened and start to brown a little bit on those onions.
-So that's been about eight minutes.
-You know this is going to taste good because that smells divine.
-It's so true.
It's so true.
So, I'm going to kill the heat here, and we're going to dump all of this right into our lentil-bulgur mixture.
-I also have 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley, and I'm just going to mix this all together.
So, we're going to let this cool on the counter until it's really basically room temperature, which takes about 30 to 45 minutes.
Then we're going to pop it in the fridge for another 30 minutes, and that's going to really firm it up so that we can mold these into gorgeous little logs.
-Okay, so our kofte mixture is fully chilled at this point.
It's going to make it really easy to form them into nice logs.
And I'm going to use a little bit of spray on a 1/4-cup measure here, which is going to make it a lot easier to portion it out.
I'm going to get 16 of these, then I'm going to go back and shape them really nicely, but just to start going through with my measuring cup.
Okay, and our last one.
-Look at that!
-Alright, so we've got our portioned-out kofte here, and now it's time to shape them.
It really helps to have moist hands when you're working with this.
-It can be a little bit sticky.
We're looking for 3-inch logs, so I kind of go around the perimeter here and just shape it out.
And then what I do is -- -Oh, look at that.
-Yeah, once I get it there, I can kind of squeeze it out in this way -- -Uh-huh.
-...and then cap the ends with my fingers.
-Well, you said gorgeous little logs, and you were correct.
-Alright, let's go over to this next one here.
And I'm just going to kind of arrange them around this way.
-Would you like to hop in and help me?
-Would you say it's better than yours?
-No, definitely not.
-But it's beautiful.
Let's finish these up.
-[ Laughs ] -So, I think we did a pretty good job with our shaping.
-I think you're being modest.
We did a fantastic job.
-A fantastic job.
So those are going to be wonderful.
They're always served with some fresh herbs on top.
-We're going to take that and make it a little bit more of a robust salad.
-It's gonna be really delicious.
And I need about 3/4 cup of chopped parsley, so I'm starting with a nice big amount, and I like to gently kind of ball it up, get it into a more manageable shape for -- for slicing.
Then just go right through it.
Because it's a salad, I'm going to leave it a pretty rough chop.
-And how much are we looking for?
We have some mint.
We're looking for about 1/4 cup of this.
Just run my knife through it.
Into our salad bowl.
So, I also have four scallions that I'm going to slice thin, and what I like to do is cut down the middle and double them up.
Into our bowl.
Now it's time to season up our salad, so we're going to have a little more extra virgin olive oil.
This is a tablespoon.
I've got 2 teaspoons of lemon juice for some nice brightness.
-We've got all that richness.
-It's going to help balance that out.
I also have a teaspoon of sumac.
This is ground sumac.
It is not the poisonous kind, though it is related to that, and it's a gorgeous, gorgeous flavor.
It's really tart.
It's almost like lemon juice, but in a dry form.
It's a fabulous, fabulous spice.
And then I have 1/2 teaspoon of Aleppo, so we're going to have a little bit of heat in this as well.
-And finally, 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
And I'll just stir this together.
-Yeah, all I can say is "mmm" because I'm really hungry.
-It's hard to wait.
It's hard to wait.
But we're very close now.
-So, we're going to come over to our beautiful kofte here, and I'm just going to put the salad right into the center.
Okay, so it is time to eat.
We have our gorgeous platter of kofte with our salad.
-Look how special that looks.
I mean, you really took time to make this something spectacular.
-And obviously, this is the perfect thing to have with lavash, which is an Armenian flatbread.
It's got such nice chew and stretch to it.
-This... -I'm following your lead.
-Get a little salad.
-Got to get more of that salad on that.
There we go.
-There we go.
Yeah, got to go heavy on that salad.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
-Alright, let's dig in.
I went through a lot of meatless days... -You did?
-...because of how I was brought up, as well.
We never had anything this satisfying and as hearty.
-Really, really good.
-Yeah, it is so full of flavor.
-I love how the lentils and the bulgur, they each bring a different kind of texture to it.
-They really do.
-And so much nice body and richness to it.
And then those two fats, olive oil and butter.
I don't know.
It's just so complex.
-This is so ultra satisfying.
-Well, if you want to make this great Armenian dish at home, simmer lentils until they are fully broken down.
Pour over fine-grain bulgur.
When the mixture's cooled, portion it into logs, and serve with a parsley, mint, and sumac salad.
So, from "America's Test Kitchen," a satisfying, simple, and savory vospov kofte.
You can get this recipe and all the recipes from this season, along with product reviews and select episodes on our website.
Fully expected half that plate to be gone by the time I got back over here.
-[ Chuckles ] -Mmm.
-I showed some real restraint.