MIDDLE EASTERN

ZA’ATAR LAMB TURKISH PIZZA – LAHMACUN

By Sam | 5 April, 2020

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A richly spiced lamb topping, spiked with tomato, peppers and garlic melts into a wonderfully thin almost-crisp dough. Traditionally eaten rolled up and filled with pickled veg, parsley and lots of lemon juice, it’s the perfect quick-fix you’ll be clamouring for second and third helpings in minutes.  

We have flavoured our lamb further with Za’atar, taking inspiration from another of the delicious flatbreads from the Middle East – the Maneesh. 

This recipe uses a cast-iron frying pan as means of replicating the bread ovens these Flat Breads would traditionally be cooked in – the results will speak for themselves!      

  • Author: Sam
Scale

Ingredients

THE DOUGH

250g Strong White Bread Flour, plus extra for dusting

5g Instant Yeast,

5g Salt,

10ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil,

200ml Tepid Water,

Fine Semolina, for dusting

THE TOPPING

250g Minced Lamb, 

1 Onion,

1 Garlic Clove,

1 Large Tomato,

1 Red Pepper,

1 tbsp Tomato Paste,

1 tsp Aleppo Chili flakes, or regular chili flakes 

3 tsps Za’atar, 

1 Small Bunch of Parsley, roughly chopped

Generous Pinch of Salt & Pepper

THE ONIONS

1 Red Onion, finely sliced 

Juice of ½ a Lemon

1 tbsp Water

½ tsp of Sumac

Pinch of Salt

TO SERVE

Parsley, a large bunch

Lemon Wedges

METHOD

THE ONIONS

  1. Slice the red onion as finely as you can manage or better still, use a mandolin if you own one. 
  2. Into a small mixing bowl, add the juice of half a lemon along with a tbsp of water, the sumac and a pinch of salt. Whisk together, before adding the sliced onion into the bowl and mix to ensure it is covered in the lemon juice mix. 
  3. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. 

THE DOUGH

TIP – This is a very wet dough. Using a mixer with a dough hook will make life much easier. If you do not own one, then we have outlined two methods: one using a mixer, the other using good old fashioned elbow-grease!

MIXER WITH DOUGH HOOK

  1. Place the flour into the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook fitted. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt into the other.

TIP – It’s very important not to place the salt directly in contact with the yeast. If not, this can prevent the yeast from working.

  1. Start the mixer on a low speed until the dough has started to come together. Slowly, add the remaining water to the bowl and then increase to a medium speed. Mix for 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.     
  2. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for 1-3 hours until at least doubled in size. 

TIP – At this point, you can place the dough into the fridge and leave overnight. This will actually improve the flavour and texture of the dough but is not a necessity. 

  1. Once risen, turn the dough out onto a well-oiled surface, knocking back the dough. Divide the dough into 4 and shape into 4 equal balls. Dust a proofing box or deep-sided tray with fine semolina or flour and set the 4 dough balls inside. Cover and leave to rest for 1-2 hours. 

MIXING BOWL

  1. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt into the other.

TIP – It’s very important not to place the salt directly in contact with the yeast as this can prevent the yeast from working.

  1. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add in ¾ of the water, followed by the olive oil. Using a spoon, introduce the flour from the edges around the bowl into the water gradually until the dough is starting to come together. Slowly add the rest of the water, mixing together with your hands or with a spoon until a wet dough is formed. 

TIP – I usually use a wooden spoon for this and try and almost knead the dough as much as possible, using the spoon whilst the dough is at its wettest.

  1. Turn the dough out onto a well-oiled surface. Then, using oiled hands, knead the dough for 5-6 minutes until a stretchy, smooth dough is achieved. You will likely need to re-oil your hands from time to time.    
  2. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for 1-3 hours until at least doubled in size. 

TIP – At this point, you can place the dough into the fridge and leave overnight. This will actually improve the flavour and texture of the dough but is not a necessity. 

  1. When the dough has risen, turn the dough out onto a well-oiled surface, knocking back the dough. Divide the dough into 4 and shape into 4 equal balls. Dust a proofing box or deep-sided tray with fine semolina or flour and set the 4 dough balls inside. Cover and leave to rest for 1-2 hours.  

THE TOPPING

  1. Place the onion, garlic, tomato, pepper and parsley into a food processor and blitz until finely minced. Tip the mixture into a fine-meshed sieve and press down on the mixture using the back of a spoon – pushing out any excess moisture. You want to try and lose as much moisture as possible. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl add the lamb mince and season with salt, pepper, the za’atar and chilli flakes. Try and loosen the mince so that the seasoning is evenly spread over the meat. 
  3. Add the tomato paste and the minced vegetables to the bowl and thoroughly mix together until evenly combined. 

COOKING THE LAHMACUN

  1. Preheat the oven to 220Cº or its highest setting and set the tray of your oven to the very top of the oven. You want to do this about 20 minutes before you start cooking the Lahmacun.
  2. Place a large, ideally cast-iron, Frying Pan over a high heat. 

TIP – we use a cast-iron crepe pan which works extremely well as crepe pans tend to have a larger surface area and the low sides make transferring the dough easier. 

  1. Generously dust your work surface and hands with flour and transfer one of the rested dough balls to the work surface. After that dust the top of the dough ball with flour and then using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a round disk. It should be large enough to just fit inside the pan you are using. Ideally, it should be no more than 3mm thick
  2. Dust a wooden chopping board or pizza peel with a generous amount of fine semolina and transfer your rolled out dough on top. The semolina will act like tiny ball bearings and ease the transfer of the dough onto the pan. 
  3. Making sure the dough is not sticking to the board, add the lahmacun topping to the dough, pressing the topping down to create a thin layer across the entirety of the dough. 

TIP – Whilst adding the topping to the dough, turn the dough 90º every now and then to ensure the dough isn’t sticking to the board. If you feel like it is sticking, gently tease one of the edges up and dust some more semolina under the offending spots.

  1. Once the topping is in place, transfer the dough onto the hot pan. This is the most difficult part of this recipe and may take the first couple to get the hang of. I have found you can work more slowly than you might think in sliding the dough into the pan, letting gravity do the work for you. Once in the pan, you can always slightly rearrange the edges as it begins to cook.   
  2. Cook the Lahmacun on the hob for 30 seconds to a minute, until you can start to see air bubbles forming in the dough. Then transfer the pan to the top shelf of the hot oven. Cook the Lahmacun in the oven for about 2-3 minutes, until the edges of the dough have puffed up a little and the topping is cooked. 
  3. Once cooked transfer to a wire rack and repeat the process until the dough is used up. Once you get the hang of it, you can usually prepare the next Lahmacun whilst the other is cooking in the oven. 
  4. Serve the Lahmacun with plenty of the pickled onions, a generous bunch of parsley and lemon wedges. Traditionally, Lahmacun is eaten folded in half or rolled up like a burrito, with the pickled onion and parsley inside and lots of fresh lemon juice.    

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