These Armenian meat pies are called lahmajoon and are made to order in Armenian neighborhood bakeries in Beirut. They are a bit spicy, the dough encasing them is almost paper-thin (similar to a Mexican flour tortilla) and tender with crisp edges; rolled up in a piece of paper and doused with fresh lemon juice these lahmajoon are served fresh out of the oven.
It is hard to eat just one.
If you want to save time, you can buy frozen bread dough or flour tortillas. I am using an all-purpose pita bread dough that is a snap to make.
DOUGH: Makes 25 to 30 pies
- 4 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tsp of dry yeast
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- 1 tsp of salt
- 3 tbsp of olive oil (more to coat the dough)
- 1 1/2 cups of warm water
- 1 onion, chopped (6 oz)
- 1 green bell pepper (8 oz), chopped
- 1 1/2 pound mixture of ground lamb and ground beef (lean)
- 1 1/2 cup of minced parsley
- 1 tbsp Aleppo pepper
- 1 tsp allspice
- 2 tsp of salt
- 6 cloves of garlic chopped and mashed
- 6 oz of tomato paste
- 3 oz of red pepper paste
- 2 heaping tbsp of hot paprika or chile powder
For the dough:
- Place the yeast and one teaspoon of sugar in a small measuring cup; add 1/2 cup of warm water and stir. Place it in a cupboard for 15 minutes and let it proof; in the meantime, place the flour, salt and 2 teaspoons of sugar in the bowl of a mixer or processor. Mix to combine; when the yeast has bubbled, pour into the flour mixture with one cup of warm water and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix for a few minutes until the dough is a compact, shiny mass. Transfer to a counter, and knead it vigorously for 10 seconds; form into a ball, place in a bowl with a bit of oil, coat it with the oil all over; cover with a damp cloth or a plastic and let it proof in the turned-off oven or in a cupboard for 2 hours or so.
For the filling:
- Chop the onion very fine and sprinkle with salt; place on a paper towel set on a sieve over a bowl and let it drain its water for thirty minutes or longer. This is an optional step. Place the meats in the bowl of a food processor, add the spices, paste, minced parsley, chopped bell pepper and drained onion and process into a paste a few seconds.
- Turn out the dough on the counter and press to de-gas it. Chop off about 25 small balls of dough and cover them with a damp cloth; take one ball at a time and roll it out into a pie shape keeping the crust very thin; spread the meat paste on it with a long spatula evenly to the edges; set it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Bake in a 400F oven for about 8 minutes. Cool a few seconds, squeeze a half lemon on it and eat stuffed with fresh veggies if desired.
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