Originally published in the High Plains Reader, April 19, 2012, in the Cuisine section. Republished with additional photos.
If you are a No Reservations fan, you may have noticed Anthony Bourdain noshing on Lahmacun in Instanbul.
Lahmucan is like a pizza. A flatbread topped with a fragrant, spiced meat mixture and baked, and served with a garnish of pickles, parsley, and/or fresh lemon wedges.
After perusing the Internet, I found a lovely recipe for Lahmucan (Flat Bread with Lamb and Tomatoes) from Saveur, which I adapted slightly. Most of the recipes are similar and simple for the home cook. I chose to make my own pizza dough, but if you are in a pinch or have a gluten allergy, use a store bought or gluten-free variety.
The dough is crispy and delicate and the meat mixture is warmly fragrant and as spicy as you desire. For fun, I added pinches of goat cheese to a couple flatbreads.
Because I was unable to readily find freshly ground lamb, so I substituted ground beef instead. I had leftover meat mixture that I plan to either freeze or saute and incorporate into a different meal.
1 teaspoon of sugar or honey
1 package of quick rise yeast (1/4 oz)
2 cups of flour
1 ½ teaspoon of salt
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons of tomato paste
2 Tablespoons of minced parsley
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper, or to taste
¼ teaspoon of cumin
¼ teaspoon of paprika
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
½ pound of ground beef (or lamb)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small tomato, grated
1 small onion, minced (I used red)
Fresh chili, minced (I used 1 Thai chili).
Making the dough
In a small bowl, bloom the yeast by melding it with the sugar and ¾ cup of warm water. Let sit for about 10 minute or until frothy.
In a larger bowl, mix the flour and salt. Make a crater in the center.
Pour in the wet yeast mixture and incorporate the flour, from the inside out, until dough forms. Add more water if the dough is too dry.
Pour onto a floured surface and knead until smooth-about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl smeared with olive oil, making sure the exposed surface of the dough is also lightly oiled.
Cover and let rise in a warm location until doubled in size. If you want to make the dough a day ahead, punch down, cover and place in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.
Divide the dough into four portions and roll into balls. Let the dough balls rise in a warm location for another 45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow a pan or pizza stone to heat in the oven.
Making the topping
In a bowl, combine the oil, tomato paste, parsley, cumin, paprika, and cinnamon.
Add the ground meat, garlic, grated onion and tomato, chili and season with salt and combine.
Making the Lahmacun
On a floured surface, roll out each dough ball until they are about 1/8 inch thin and place on a sheet of parchment paper.
Spread each round with a thin layer of the meat mixture and place the parchment paper directly onto the preheated pan in the oven.
Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the meat is cooked.
Top with your choice of parsley, freshly squeezed lemon juice, parsley, olives or a sprinkle of sea salt.
I topped each lahmacun with tomato and a simple parsley salad of parsley leaves, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
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