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Recession-Proof Recipes: Lamejun

As long as there's been flour, there's been flatbread. And about as long as there's been flatbread, there's been folks tossing sauces and tidbits atop their flatbreads. Much later of course, such things were called "pizzas," (there's really no point in denying the lengthy, pre-Italian pizza history...) and now, pretty much any old cracker, bagel or tortilla with sauce on it is freely referred to as pizza.


But let's not forget those tasty flatbread precursors in our current age of pizza mania. Pizza, or pide or paratha or any of the other tasty members of the flatbread family are, at heart, basic peasant foods.


Anya Von Bremzen's book Please to the Table features a pizza/pide cousin she spells as lachmanjun and refers to as an Armenian pizza. I believe the more popular spelling is lahmacun or lamejun, but however you spell it or say it, this dish makes for a tasty, economical meal.


My version of lamejun is based around Von Bremzen's. I reckon you could probably use a food processor to chop the veggies if you felt like it and you could make it with beef (or no meat at all) if you feel some sort of aversion to lamb. I'd serve it alongside a rich red and a crisp bowl of dressed greens or a tomato-cucumber salad, myself.
Lamb Lamejun (Turkish Pizza) (Serves 8)

For the Crusts:
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 tsp sugar
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
+ Extra flour for kneading

For the Toppings
1 lb ground lamb
2 medium onions, minced
1 red or green bell pepper, minced
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp Aleppo pepper (or substitute 1/2 tsp sweet paprika and 1/2 tsp hot paprika)
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp parsley or mint, chopped (for garnish)
2 Tbsp crumbled feta or mild goat cheese (for garnish)

1. Combine the yeast, sugar and water in a large bowl and let stand about 5 minutes. 2. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oil and the salt.
3. Add the flour, about a cup at a time, blending well after each addition. Transfer the dough to a work surface. Coat your hands with some of the remaining oil and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, adding just enough of the remaining flour to prevent sticking.
4. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a large bowl. Drizzle with the remaining vegetable oil and coat the dough. Drape with a vaguely moist linen kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place about an hour or until it doubles in bulk.
5. Meanwhile, make the topping in another large bowl. Simply combine the lamb, onions, diced peppers, tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, spice and salt and mix well.
6. After the dough has risen, divide into eight equal balls. Place on a floured surface and let rest, covered with a towel for 10 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 450°F and lightly oil two large baking sheets.
8. Using a floured rolling pin, flatten out each ball of dough into a circle about 4 inches across.
9. Divide the topping into eight portions, and spread one portion across each circle.
10. Arrange the dough circles on the prepared sheets and bake until the crust is crisp and the topping is browned, about 15 minutes.
11. Serve immediately as is, or sprinkle with chopped parsley/mint and cheese before serving.

Feel free to halve it or to freeze some of the dough balls for later use if you're only serving two.


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Blogger C.L. said...

That sounds awesome


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