Turkish-Style Lamb Pizza

Before you turn up your nose at this pizza, let me put an American spin on it and call it a Manwich pizza. Manwich, for those that are far younger than me, is a canned sloppy joe sauce, somewhere below spam and potted meat in the periodic table. Just consider this a meat pizza, which is essentially what it is. In this instance, the meat is lamb (yes, the “Mary had a little…” variety).

I’ve had this Wine Spectator recipe (via Rocky) for a while, but have been unable to prepare it due to the unavailability of ground lamb. I live in Burlington, remember (think Mayberry)? With our recently-started monthly Tour de Food runs (Carrboro Farmer’s Market et al), the lack of lamb is no more. The Carrboro market has a nice gentleman from Three Waters Farm who sells ground lamb by the pound.

Here’s a stripped down version of the recipe:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
8 ounces ground lamb
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground sumac (a pinkish-red spice with a tart, fruity flavor, available in specialty gourmet and health food stores; may substitute finely grated lemon zest)
1/4 cup finely chopped mint leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Yogurt, for drizzling over finished pizzas (optional)

1. In a skillet, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onion, garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are golden and fragrant, then stir in the lamb, breaking it up with a wooden spoon so that it cooks evenly. Cook until it begins to brown at the edges, then stir in the tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes, until the tomato paste is a deep rust color, then add the sumac, mint and parsley. Stir to combine, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as necessary. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

2. Lightly flour the dough and your hands, and on a lightly floured work surface, flatten one of the dough balls into a disk. Roll out to an evenly thick, 9-inch circle, using a rolling pin.

3. Transfer circle to a pizza peel or an inverted baking sheet dusted with cornmeal (this will help the dough slide easily onto the stone). Top the circle with about 1/3 of the lamb mixture, distributing it evenly over the surface. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough and bake in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes, until the crust is puffy and lightly charred. Slice and serve, drizzled with yogurt if desired.

It’s stripped down because I removed the bits dealing with making your own crust. One of these day’s I’ll cross that bridge, but for now I stick with the trusted Boboli.

Other subs include lemon zest for sumac (sumac in NC is known as poison ivy) and  goat cheese for yogurt.

As for cooking the lamb, I have the temperature set at medium and it takes somewhere between 10-15 minutes. When it comes to adding the tomato paste, skip the measurement and go with half the can.

The above picture, blown out as it is, is not too far from finished. I assume that’s the “deep rust color” stated in the recipe. Turning towards the pizza, be sure to lightly coat the crust with extra-virgin olive oil before spreading the lamb.

In my version I add the goat cheese before the pizza goes into oven. You can do it either before or after, because it will melt in the end.  You’ll also notice that if you compare the above photo to the one on the Wine Spectator site, they look complete different. Is that because I did something wrong? No. The one on the Wine Spectator site is nothing more than a stock photo of a pizza (but not this pizza). How lame.

Cooking time is around 12 minutes, but your mileage (oven) may vary.

It will be spicy, but that’s what makes it so good. You’re not going to sweat or get that tingle on the top of your head, but you’ll know this ain’t no plain hamburger pizza.

~ by Genevieve on 2010.07.18.

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