Amazing recipe. Ground lamb and grill take your mind to hamburger or koftas, right? But by enclosing it all inside a pita bread, you’ll have something totally different and incredibly tasty.  I first saw the recipe on a TV show by America’s Test Kitchen, then noticed variations of it in several Middle Eastern cookbooks. If you enjoy the flavor of lamb, give it a try. It’s a real keeper.

(adapted from The Splendid Table)

2 pounds ground lamb
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons juice
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 (8-inch) pita breads

Mince cilantro very well. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in oil, lemon zest and juice, coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne, and cinnamon. Add lamb and knead gently with your hands until thoroughly combined.

Using kitchen shears, cut around perimeter of each pita and separate into 2 halves. Place 4 thicker halves on counter with interiors facing up. Divide lamb mixture into 4 equal portions and place 1 portion in center of each pita half. Using spatula, gently spread lamb mixture into even layer, leaving 1/2-inch border around edge. Top each with thinner pita half. Press each sandwich firmly until lamb mixture spreads to ¼ inch from edge of pita. Transfer sandwiches to large plate, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Place sandwiches on hot grill, cover, and cook until bottoms are evenly browned and edges are starting to crisp, 7 to 10 minutes, moving sandwiches as needed to ensure even cooking. Flip sandwiches, cover grill, and continue to cook until second sides are evenly browned and edges are crisp, 7 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer sandwiches to cutting board and cut each in half crosswise. Serve immediately.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you look at the original recipe, you’ll see that I considerably reduced the amount of spices (and also the amount of olive oil, as lamb has enough fat). I tend to do that very often. In my opinion many recipes use too heavy a hand with spices, so that the flavor of the food itself becomes secondary. In this particular preparation, I prefer to let the taste of the meat shine a bit more. Do as you must to suit your taste. We loved these pitas, they were a complete meal with just the right amount of carbs to satisfy, and the lamb nicely seasoned.

You can adapt this method to ground turkey, ground beef, or even go vegetarian and make some type of garbanzo bean, mushroom concoction inside. That would be wonderful too, I am sure.

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I grew up enjoying one of my favorite breads,  pita, on a weekly basis.  In Brazil  it’s called “pao sirio” (Syrian bread).  As I’ve mentioned before,  Middle Eastern food is very popular in Sao Paulo, so my weekends often included visits to a particular spot that sold bags of freshly baked flat bread.  It was similar to what we call  “pita” here in the US,  and usually associate with Greek food.    The current bagged stuff at grocery stores pales in comparison to freshly baked pita, and it’s so easy to make that once you master this technique,  I doubt you’ll go back to the commercial versions.   Unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to have a Middle Eastern bakery right in your neighborhood…   😉

This recipe comes from Dan Lepard, and you can find it  by  clicking here. You can also read a discussion about it in his forum by following this link.

Dan’s method involves a simple dough (flour, yeast, sugar, olive oil, a little salt) prepared with his minimal kneading procedures, divided into 8 portions, and each one rolled into an oval or circle about 5mm (1/4 inch) thick.   The flat breads bake over a blazing-hot baking sheet for a few minutes, until they puff (or not, depending on how well you hit the correct thickness) and acquire a hint of color.

When you hit the jackpot – the slightly elusive, “just-right”  thickness,  you’ll be rewarded with a beautifully puffed up balloon in your oven!

Comments: Whenever I succeed in baking bread with my electric oven, I wear a smile and walk  on top of the world for a few days!  Baking 8 pita circles took some patience and fiddling with the oven.  Besides baking one at a time, I had to start with the rack in the center, and as the bread puffed up I quickly moved it to the lower position.  Against all odds, I didn’t burn myself!   It took me more than an hour to bake the full batch, which told me that the dough can sit at room temperature for a long time and still produced great pita!  😉

By the way, if your pita doesn’t inflate as a balloon, it will still be delicious.  In fact, I like to roll a few slightly thicker, because they produce a softer bread, with more crumb and a chewy texture.  It’s a nice change from the “pocket” version, that also re-heats a little better next day.

I am thrilled to submit this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting, my first this year!

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