Monday, July 02, 2012

Lahmejun (Armenian Pizza)

A good friend of mine sent me this recipe last weekend. She and her husband used to eat this excellent appetizer or meal at Sayat Nova in Chicago many decades ago. She was pleased to see that it is still on their menu after all those years!
To call this "pizza" really doesn't tell the story of either its base or topping. The base has crackerish qualities lacking in bread and its topping, rich only with meat, fragrant spices and herbs, and devoid of any cheese-like quality. We gobbled down these meat pides last night with astounding speed.
Yesterday, I found a video demonstrating how to make them on youtube. Before watching it you might want to mute the sound because the music, which they offer for sale, is a bit harsh for my ears.

How to make the dough

The authentic choice of meat is lamb, but if you object you could substitute beef. I ground my own lamb with the grinder attachment of my KA, but mincing it with a food processor would also work nicely. Of course you can also just buy the product already ground, if you choose.
The flavor of the finished pide is greatly enhanced by a lot of fresh lemon juice.
I took a lot of pictures, but, alas, didn't have the CF card in the camera except for the last shot.

Lahmejun (make 12)

Dough:
7 g instant yeast
227 g warm water
7 g salt
7 g sugar
56 g shortening (I used Crisco, but you could probably use olive oil with good results)
340 g AP flour

Topping:
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground lamb
3/4 cup chopped parsley
3/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped or passed through a garlic press
1/4 cup tomato paste
14 oz. can pear-shaped tomatoes (you can also use peeled, seeded, and chopped fresh tomatoes)
1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
Lemon wedges, fresh mint, and olive oil

Mix dough ingredients together adding enough extra flour, if necessary, to make a soft pliable dough.  Knead for about 5 minutes to make it smooth and non-sticky.  Turn into greased bowl, cover, and let rise until double, about 1 hour.

Punch down and divide into 12 equal pieces, each slightly under 2 oz. Shape into balls, arrange about 2” apart, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450Âș with rack on lowest level, and prepare topping. Drain tomatoes and finely chop the pulp.  Add pulp to remaining topping ingredients and mix with a fork until completely blended.  Divide meat mixture into 12 portions of about 1/3 cup each.

Take 2 pieces of dough and roll each to a 7 to 8” circle (dough will be very thin).  Place them slightly apart on ungreased lipped baking sheet lined with either parchment or a silicon baking pad.  Using a fork, spread meat mixture evenly to edges of dough.

Bake one sheet at a time at 450˚ for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom but still capable of being folded. Remove and cool on racks. Repeat until all are baked.
Serve with lemon wedges.  Armenians put pickles or salad on top, and fold in half to eat.
Store in sets of 2, with meat surfaces together (I put waxed paper between.)  Wrap well, and refrigerate or freeze.

To reheat:  Thaw, if frozen.  Leave in sets of 2.  Bake at 450˚ for 5 to 7 minutes until piping hot.  Separate and serve with lemon wedges.

Notes: May be top with salad dressed with 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 tablespoons olive oil, salt & pepper, and lots of fresh chopped mint.


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