Sou Boreg, like so many Armenian dishes, is this mythical creature that many people talk about eating when they were younger, but would never attempt to make themselves. You can sometimes find it at Armenian markets, usually in the freezer section, and I was amazed to find it available every day on the menu at Brookline Family Restaurant, the Turkish place down the street from me.
The biggest reason why you don’t see this more often is because it’s such a time intensive process. This is one of those dishes that, in the old days, the ladies would have gathered together to make in mass quantities, helping each other and gossiping at the same time. While we were making this, my brother hypothesized that such complex dishes were created back in the day to cure boredom and enable gossip time; I favor the idea that they were a way to show off talent (and show off that you had the time to invest in the process) instead. When my mother complained that the process was taking too long, I said that we were at least getting in some bonding time. “Can’t we do something else to bond?” she asked.
Anyway, my mother tried making sou boreg from scratch years ago, and she found it to be more of a hassle than anything. Rolling out the dough took forever because it has to be so thin and even. Then, someone suggested using packaged eggroll wrappers instead, cutting out the steps of making and rolling out the dough. Each individual eggroll wrapper must still be boiled for a moment, shocked in ice water, then arranged on a towel to dry, meaning that the shortcut does not make this a quick dish to throw together. But if you have the time, the patience, and an extra set of hands, the reward is a crunchy, cheesy, buttery treat that will make you forget the effort that went into it.
The picture below shows the set up for boiling the noodles, with the pots for hot water (in the back), ice water (in the front), and the noodles on the towel.
2 lbs Muenster cheese, rind removed, grated
8 oz. cottage cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 cup parsley, minced
36 eggroll wrappers
1 ½ sticks butter, melted
Butter the bottom and sides of an 11x15 inch baking pan.
Combine Muenster cheese, cottage cheese, egg, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Fill another pot or bowl with ice water, and lay a large towel on the counter top next to the stove. Working one at a time, boil the first 18 eggroll wrappers in boiling water for about a minute, until just cooked through (they will fall apart if cooked too long). Transfer to ice water to cool the noodle, then lay flat on the towel to dry. Arrange the 18 noodles in the tray – for this size pan, three noodles per layer (2 whole and one cut in half) – and brush each layer with butter. After six layers, arrange cheese filling in an even layer. Boil and dry the rest of the noodles, then repeat layering over the cheese filling. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
Preheat oven to 400°. Remove tray from fridge and cut into squares. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden. Serve hot.