Turkish Lahmacun with Piyaz

*Turkish Lahmacun Pizza with Piyaz**

1 tsp dry active yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1+1/2 cup of warm water
4 1/2 cups of flour
Little oil to brush the dough

Ingredients for the topping:

12 oz of minced beef or lamb (I always use 85 % lean beef)
1 large onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups of fresh curly parsley
1 cup of fresh mint
1 medium tomato
1 teaspoon chili pepper
1 jalapeno (optional) (I personally use pickled hot peppers instead of jalapenos)
1 teaspoon paprika (optional)
1 teaspoon of cumin (optional)
salt according to your own taste
Juice of 1 lemon
little oil to brush the dough

Directions for the dough:

In a small bowl mix yeast and the sugar. Add 1/2 cup of warm water, stir well, close the lid (or cover with plate). You can leave the bowl on the counter but I usually put it somewhere warm. Warmness accelerates the process and better activates the yeast. Activating yeast is important to have a better rising dough. Keep the mixture warm for about 15 minutes without opening the lid. When the time is up, you should have a nice foamy liquid. Even if you do not, still keep it and make the dough. It will still work.

In a large bowl combine the remaining water, flour and the yeast mixture.

Mix everything well and kneed it into a nice soft, springy dough. It should be soft as your ear lobes. Add flour or water as needed. A well-kneaded dough will be much easier to work with later. Keep this in mind!

Coat the dough with just a little bit of oil, cover with damp cloth and leave it to rise in a warm place. I usually cover the bowl with the lid and bundle it up nicely to have a good volume dough. Give it a rest for around 1 hour before you take it out from the cover. When you do take the dough out, make sure it has doubled in size.

Once the time is up, open up the lid and punch the dough a little. Flour the working surface and drop the dough. Cut it into pieces smaller than a tennis ball but larger that a golf ball. You should have about 10-12 pieces.

Roll each one and place on the floured surface. Cover with a damp cloth and let it stand until your topping is ready (20 min). Turn the oven on and keep it at 420 F.

Directions for the topping:

Meanwhile, prepare the topping.
Wash the greens well and chop them nicely. I usually wash and soak parsley with mint in water prior to using them. This way all the dirt remains in the water.

Cut the onion and garlic in pieces, put the pieces into a chopper and chop until nicely minced.

Heat the skillet in medium-high, melt the butter, add onion+garlic mixture, saute for about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, close the lid and simmer for 2 more minutes. Take the skillet off the burner and cool the onion mixture.

Peel the skin off tomato and cut it to very small pieces.
Have all the ingredients in one big bowl. At this point, add lamb, chili pepper, salt, cumin, lemon juice, paprika, chopped jalapenos (or chopped pickled hot peppers) and mix everything very well.

The dough is well rested at this point. Take one by one and roll into a round, flat circle or an oval measuring up to 5 mm in height. The author of the recipes likes to make her Lahmacuns very thin. This way they come out a little crispy. If you want them much softer roll the dough a little thicker but no more than 5-8 mm.

Some use pizza stones to bake Lahmacuns. While it is a good alternative for the original brick ovens it is not very practical if you are making quite a few since it will take a while to cook up all of the lahmacuns. So, I suggest using regular baking sheets. Sprinkle some non-fat cooking spray (or just a little oil will work), place rolled dough on the sheet, slightly brush with some olive oil (canola oil works too) top up with 2 Tbsp of the ready topping. Spread the topping evenly and very thinly.

I place 2 rounds in one regular 11″x17″ size baking sheet. If you have bigger sheets and want to use those, you are more than welcome to do so. 3 baking sheets are enough to keep the whole process going pretty fast. Put two baking sheets in the oven at a time. The top one usually gets baked faster. When you take the ready batch out, rotate the bottom one to the top and place a new batch on the lower rack.

The oven should remain at 420F – not too high and not too low. Since you are going to be constantly opening the oven, the temperature ideally will stay at about 370F. Cooked Lahmacuns are crispy at the ends and softer in the middle. Corners usually get nicely tanned. Take them off the baking sheet to a wider container and cover with a towel until you are done with every single one of them. Humidity under the towel will soften Lahmacuns, making it very easy for you to roll them around the fresh ingredients you might want to use.

Serve lahmacun immediately with the piyaz rolled up inside and lemon wedges to squeeze over on the side.

 (Sliced tomatoes, onion and parsley salad with herbs)

1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground sumac - optional-
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon paprika flakes - optional

Work sumac and the salt into the onion slices with your hands really well. Combine with the chopped tomatoes, parsley and paprika flakes. Whisk together the extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice and pour over the piyaz. Season with salt (if needed) and freshly ground black pepper.