The alternative title for this post is "what do to with all that leftover turkey after Thanksgiving" because this is the one thing I look forward to, actually more than regular turkey itself. This is really more of a porridge than a soup (yes, Goldilocks style), but it's a traditional Armenian dish that is one of our comfort foods. My family calls it Keshkeg (pronounced "kesh" like "Ke$ha" [ugh] and "keg" like a beer keg) and E's family calls it Herisah (pronounced "hair-ee-sah" to the best of my transliterary abilities). Whatever you call it, it's thick and delicious topped with a pat of butter (or drenched in it) a little salt, pepper, and the most important ingredient: cumin. There are a few ways to make this dish, but what I love is that we make it in the crock pot which makes life that much easier.
Before I start in on the recipe here's what you're going to need to do. Use the turkey carcass, wings, and extra bony/meat bits and boil them down. Allow to cool. Reserve the liquid for broth and remove the turkey meat from the bones (carefully so you get nice, clean pieces of meat) and shred the meat into pieces.
What you will need:
1 crock pot/slow cooker
shredded turkey meat (see above)
reserved turkey broth
4 cups of pelted or hulled wheat
How to make it:
The night before you're ready to make this dish, prepare your turkey and broth as mentioned above. Also, place your wheat in a large bowl and fill with water (about two inches over the wheat). Allow the wheat berries to soak over night. Or, if you skipped this and you want to make this all right now because you can't wait to see how delicious it really is, you can place the wheat in a pan and cover with water, then bring it to a boil for about 15 minutes, turn off the heat and allow it to sit for two hours. That speeds up the process a bit.
When you're wheat is ready, put it into your crock pot, add in the shredded meat, and top with enough broth to cover the wheat above by 2 inches. Save any extra broth to add in later.
Turn your crock pot on low and allow it to cook for 8 hours. Yes. 8 hours. That means you can put this on early morning, go get some shopping done, enjoy a good book, take a walk, go to the movies, do something fun with your family, and when you come home 8 hours later, you'll be just about ready for dinner. If you are home, you will want to stir the soup every 30-60 minutes once it's hot and continue to add broth as needed. This is to ensure the best results, though to be honest, the last two years we turned it on and left the house for about 10 hours and came home to amazing soup.
When the keshkeg is ready, it should have a porridge like look, sort of like thick oatmeal. Use a spoon to stir it vigorously, whipping it a bit. If you still have big thick chunks of meat or big wheat berries, you may want to use an immersion blender or hand mixer to mix it all up a bit til it's more porridge like. Add in more of the broth if you'd like. Give it a taste and add in salt and pepper to taste.
It smells amazing and now you're ready to eat. Dish it up in large bowls, topping each with a pat of butter and a dash or two of cumin to taste. Enjoy! It's a great thing that this recipe makes so much, because you're sure to want seconds and maybe thirds. And lunch for the rest of the week.
The verdict: Success! We love this dish and look forward to making it every year.
What we'd do differently: Hech! (which means "nothing!" in Armenian) we love it just the way it is!
* on a side note, if you don't have a turkey carcass and bits left, you can make this soup with chicken as well. Next time you grab a rotisserie chicken from Costco,Albertsons, Zankou, etc, save the bones and meaty bits and make this!
Let us know what you think - we'd love to hear how you Keshkeg experience is!