Every month, a stack of cooking magazines arrives in my mailbox. Ever since we moved and I had to get rid of years of backlogged magazines, I've tried to be better about going through them, looking up the interesting recipes online, pinning them to Pinterest for safekeeping, and tossing out the hard copies.Even so, there seem to be recipes that linger in my queue longer than others, and they mainly seem to originate from Saveur.
I'll admit, I was just as crushed as the rest of the foodie universe when I found out Gourmet was shutting down back in 2009, but it seems that Saveur has taken its place in the prestige food journalism world. Both magazines are notable for the artistry of their food photography, and the quality of their writing is top-notch. Saveur, however, has more of a travel-bent, and focuses on recipes derived from global cuisines. It's gorgeous to flip through and dream about vacations to exotic lands, but the recipes they include are often impractical for the home chef.
The average Saveur recipe demands a trip to the gourmet shop, at the very least, and possibly a trip to one or more ethnic grocery stores. I managed to circumvent this conundrum with last week's bucatini all'amatriciana by substituting bacon for pancetta, but even for someone who typically dedicates one day a week to an elaborate cooking project, it's just too much effort to source the ingredients to cook from Saveur on a regular basis.
I did, however, manage to spot another more reasonable recipe from Saveur, for Turkish tomato and lamb flat breads known as lahmacun, billed as being the Turkish answer to pizza. Since I had recently located reasonably-priced ground lamb at the unusual combination Latino/Eastern European grocery store not far from my house, I decided to give Saveur its due and give the recipe a try.
I've gotten to the point where I really enjoy experimenting with yeast doughs; not only do they impart a very comforting smell of baking bread to your house, it's almost magical to watch the dough rise and grow, almost like a living creature. Hence, this was a perfect Saturday afternoon project for me. I could see taking a shortcut and using pre-baked pita or naan as a base for the richly-spiced sauce of tomato, onion and lamb, if I wanted to have this meal on a weeknight, but I enjoyed putting in the effort.
Thanks to Saveur, I was able to recreate a little bit of Turkey in my kitchen practically on the other side of the world, in addition to producing a unique and tasty dinner for Justin and myself. They say the world is getting smaller all the time, and I'm lucky to live in a big city with access to ingredients from other cultures. Isn't the modern world amazing sometimes?
adapted from Saveur
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package active dry yeast
2 c. flour, plus more for dusting
1 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1⁄4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄4 teaspoon paprika
1⁄8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 oz. ground lamb
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 plum tomato, grated
1 small onion, grated
1⁄2 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1.Combine sugar, yeast, and 3⁄4 cup water heated to 115˚ in a small bowl; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Combine flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the center. Add yeast mixture and stir to form a dough. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth, about 6 minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down dough, divide into 4 portions, and roll each portion into a ball. Transfer dough balls to a floured baking sheet. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rest for 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the topping: In a large bowl, combine oil, tomato paste, parsley, cayenne, cumin, paprika, and cinnamon and stir vigorously with a fork. Stir in lamb, garlic, tomatoes, onions, and chiles and season with salt; set topping aside.
3. Put a pizza stone in bottom third of oven and heat oven to 475°. Working with one dough ball at a time, use a rolling pin to roll dough into a 10" disk. Brush off excess flour and transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper. Spoon 3–4 tbsp. topping onto dough and using your fingers, spread topping evenly to edges. Season with salt. Holding parchment paper by its edges, transfer to baking stone. Bake until dough is golden brown and topping is cooked, 6–8 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough and topping; serve warm or at room temperature.