Monday, November 23, 2009

Lahmajun (Lamacun)

What is lahmajun, you ask? Well, the simple answer is...there is no simple answer. If you call it an Armenian pizza, you'd be wrong. Because it's also Turkish. And it's not a pizza.

Basically, lahmajun is a flatbread topped with a ground lamb (or beef) mixture, seasoned with tomatoes and various peppers. If you search the Interwebs, you'll find a few recipes that vary widely from each other. You can find a huge lamb:tomato ratio, or a very small one. You can find the addition of pepper paste, which I haven't been able to figure out. Some recipes pre-cook the lamb mixture, some don't. Some cook at a high temp, some low, etc., etc. It's enough to make a person give up.

But I couldn't give up. You see, I promised a friend of mine (hi Sami!) that I'd attempt to make lahmajun for Thanksgiving. And once that promise was made (although in a slight state of inebriation), nothing short of hospitalization or death was going to keep me from fulfilling it.

So, promise kept. My only hope is that it's at least recognizable to Sami as lahmajun. (Heh, I just realized that instead of doing turkey for Thanksgiving, I'm doing Turkish for Thanksgiving.)

I was pretty happy with the results, except for the dough. I have a feeling I can come up with something with a lot less rise/rest time that will be closer to what I want - crispy, only slightly chewy, but strong enough to stand up to the heavy-ish lamb filling.  So for now, I'm only going to give you the filling recipe, plus instructions on what to do with your dough, however you choose to procure it.


1 recipe "pizza" dough
1 lb ground lamb (actually, .91 lbs, since stores around here can't seem to sell in even increments)
4 plum tomatoes from a can (preferably San Marzano), minced
1/2 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1.5 t paprika
1/2 t Aleppo pepper
1/4 t black pepper
handful of chopped parsley
1/2 t salt

Sweat the onion and garlic over medium-low heat. When almost translucent, add the lamb and peppers. Mix and mash over low heat. Add the tomatoes, and mix and mash some more. You don't want to cook the lamb completely, as that will happen in the oven. Make sure to mash pretty good, unless your lamb has been twice-ground (and if you have a butcher that will do that for you, can I move in?). An almost-spreadable consistency is what you're looking for. Mix in the chopped parsley and salt. Taste it (half-cooked lamb won't kill you) and adjust the salt if necessary.

Dump the lamb mixture into a colander over a bowl to drain. All that liquid (water from the tomatoes and fat from the lamb) may do horrendous things to your dough later.

Divide your dough into 4 pieces. Roll each one out really really thin. If you're lucky enough to have a pizza stone, use it. I'm not, so I used an inverted cookie sheet. (Watch those buggers, the thin ones like to warp and jump at high temperatures!) Spread 1/4 of the lamb onto the rolled-out dough. I use the word "spread" loosely. Spread is what I wanted. Smoosh and push around until it's even is what I got.

If you're using the inverted cookie sheet, I found that 5 minutes at 450, followed by 2-3 more minutes directly on the oven rack was sufficient.

Let cool a little, sprinkle with lemon juice, a little chopped parsley, and serve. 


Pam said...

I like to put dressed salad greens over my lamejun and wrapping it up like a burrito. My brothers slather them with mayo, which just grosses me out.

Vicki said...

Hey Pam - I like the salad idea! The so much.

Ben said...

I just realized that instead of doing turkey for Thanksgiving, I'm doing Turkish for Thanksgiving. LOL

I had never heard of this before, but it sounds interesting. There's so much I need to learn about Middle Eastern cooking...

Vicki said...

Hey Ben - I love Middle Eastern food, what little I've had. I too need to learn more :)

Bob said...

Ha, my parents always tried to get me to eat lahmajun by saying "oh it's just Armenian pizza". There was a bakery near where I grew up that made them. I didn't care for them at the time, but now I do.

Yours look great!

Vicki said...

Hey Bob -
Thanks! My Turkish friend gave them a thumbs-up, so I'll call it a success :)

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

Awesome! I've been wanting to make a Lamacun (but have not). Looks great!

Vicki said...

Hey Jessica - Thanks! Give it a try. It's tasty :)