The Armenian community is all a-buzz with the knowledge that Chef Anthony Bourdain’s next ‘Parts Unknown’, which airs on Sunday, May 20th at 9 PM (ET/PT) on CNN, will feature Armenia! (Check your local listings for the exact time.)
I, too, am excited, because in early April, I was contacted by a member of explorepartsunknown.com, the website associated with Bourdain’s TV show. I was asked if I’d be interested in
having my lahmajoun recipe appear in their companion online publication, but I’d have to decide quickly as it was a time-sensitive offer.
|The Armenian Kitchen’s Lahmajoun|
My reaction went from shock, to elation, to sheer humility.
Before sharing my recipe which includes making dough from scratch, I thought it wise to make it – in my new kitchen – to make sure the measurements and technique were correct and easy to understand. Once I was sure the final product was just right, Bourdain’s editorial staff examined the wording of the directions, making suggestions to improve my explanation.
I guess the recipe was approved, because it appeared on the Exploration Parts Unknown website! (See my recipe below.)
If time is of the essence, make lahmajoun using the short-cut method.
I’ll bet you’re asking what Bourdain and The Armenian
Kitchen have in common. Well, we’ve never met, but he – and we – have been to
Armenia! And perhaps someday he’ll try my lahmajoun recipe.
Lahmajoun – from TheArmenianKitchen.com
(Makes 12 pies)
For the dough:
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package (¼ ounce or 2 ¼ teaspoon) dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (105 to 110 F)
¼ cup oil (vegetable or olive)
For the topping:
1 medium onion
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
½ medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 small bunch of parsley, washed well and patted dry, thick
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 pound lean ground lamb or beef or a combination of the
two. (Note: ground turkey may be substituted)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried mint, crushed
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
2 tablespoons flour
¼ sweet onion, thinly sliced, for garnish
1 lemon, for garnish
For the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the lukewarm water. Stir
Add the liquid mixture to the flour and mix well with a
wooden spoon or electric hand mixer. You can also use a stand mixer with the dough-hook
Add a little more warm water if necessary.
On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough until
smooth and elastic. (Note: If using a stand mixer with a dough hook,
this step isn’t necessary.)
Lightly oil a clean large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl
and lightly oil the surface of the dough. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic
wrap and cover with a towel large enough to surround the bowl. Place the bowl
in a draft-free location and allow dough to rise for 2 hours.
After the dough has risen, pat the dough, then divide it
into 12 small, evenly sized balls.
Lightly flour the work surface and a rolling pin. Keep
additional flour handy for the rolling process.
Working with one ball of dough at a time, roll each ball
into a thin 7-inch disc. Keep the rolled discs covered with plastic wrap while
assembling to keep them from drying out.
For the topping:
If preparing the vegetables by hand, be sure to finely chop
the onion, peppers, and parsley. Leave some parsley aside to chop for garnish. To
save time, cut onion and peppers into chunks, then put them with the parsley
and diced tomatoes in a food processor, using the metal S blade. DO NOT over process.
Vegetables should still be a bit chunky, not pureed.
Using a sieve or strainer, squeeze out any excess liquid.
(Note: Too much liquid in the topping will make the dough soggy.)
In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, tomato paste,
seasonings, flour, and processed vegetables. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate
until ready to use.
Assembly and baking:
Heat oven to 425° F.
Place 3 rolled discs of dough on a parchment-lined or
lightly oiled baking sheet. Make sure the discs don’t overlap.
Add topping in a thin, even layer, spreading it almost to
the edge. (Note: An easy way to spread the topping evenly—and keep your hands
clean—is to place about ¼ cup of the filling in the center of the rolled dough
and spread it with the back of a spoon.)
Bake on the lower rack of the oven for about 6 minutes.
Move it to the upper rack and bake for another 6 minutes or until the meat
topping has browned and the bottom and edges of the dough are golden.
Serve immediately, topped with thin slices of sweet onion,
chopped parsley, and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Then fold and eat!
After baking, cool the lahmajouns completely on wire racks.
Once cooled, stack the lahmajouns, separating them with plastic wrap or
parchment paper. Place in plastic freezer bags, label, and seal tightly. They
should keep nicely for about 1 month.
Heat oven to 350 F. (Note: There is no need to defrost the
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Carefully
separate the lahmajouns and remove any plastic or paper wrapping.
Stack the lahmajouns in pairs, meat sides facing each
other, and place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for about 5 to 7 minutes or until heated through.