Ali Baa Baa sandwiches in homemade pita

Friends, I am back! My poor laptop needed a new hard drive, the Easter Bunny has come and gone, and I’ve pledged to get back to a regular blogging schedule.

So I bring you a family favorite, a recipe invented by my father to use up leftover leg of lamb. (We always said he should submit the recipe to Gourmet magazine. Alas, Gourmet is no more, so I will give it its public debut here on Home Baked.) As this is the week after Easter, there was a big chunk of garlicky leg of lamb waiting in our fridge. Dice up the lamb, add some apples and onions, a scattering of Middle Eastern spices (hence, the name), a dollop of cool Greek yogurt–pile it all in a warm pita and serve with a salad. This is a wonderful quick weeknight meal, and the kids, who eyed the lamb suspiciously on Easter Sunday, ate it on its second appearance so quickly I had to slice some more lamb to add to the pan. No doubt my version is not exactly the same as the original (which may have included some curry powder), but this is one of those adaptable, use-what-you-have recipes.

But let’s start with the pita. As I suspected, no-knead dough is ideal for pita, so I got out my trusty copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and fiddled slightly with the recipe. (But only very slightly.) I chose the whole wheat flour variation for depth of flavor, and, you know, as a nod to healthy eating. (Let’s not talk about the mysterious disappearance of all the leftover Easter cupcakes.) I mixed up one batch of dough mid-morning, refrigerated it until late afternoon, and then scooped out about 1/3 of the cold dough to make 6 individual pitas. The entire rolling and baking process took about 20 minutes, and I managed it while supervising homework. Easy, easy. The results: “Just like storebought. And that’s a compliment.”

adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 T. active dry yeast
1 T. Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
5 cups unbleached all purpose flour

Mix everything in a large lidded container until the flour is completely incorporated. You may need to use wet hands to mix in the last of the flour. Cover, but do not seal, the container and let rest on the counter for 2 hours. Transfer the container (still covered but unsealed) to the refrigerator until ready to use. Use the dough within 14 days.

Heat the oven with a baking stone inside to 500 degrees. For 4 individual pitas, dust 1/4 of the dough in the container with flour and scoop it out. Quickly shape into a ball by gently stretching the the surface and tucking it to the underside. Dust with a little more flour and cut the ball of dough into 4 equal pieces. On a floured surface, pat each piece into a round and roll into a circle about 1/8 inch thick.

Turn on the exhaust fan (some of the flour on the baking stone will burn and set off your smoke alarm–be prepared!) and slide two pitas onto the stone. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until puffed and starting to brown. Wrap the warm pita in a clean dish towel and let it cool on a rack. They will deflate slightly while cooling, but the pocket inside will remain. Bake the rest of the pitas, two at a time. An entire batch of dough should make 16 pitas; bake some now and some in the next 2 weeks, or bake them all now and store them in an airtight bag in the freezer. Warm frozen pita in the oven, wrapped in foil.

Ali Baa Baa Sandwiches

1 lb. cooked lamb, diced finely (if you’re starting from scratch, you could use ground lamb, browned and drained–in that case, add some garlic)
1 apple, diced
1 medium onion, sliced
olive oil for the pan
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
salt and pepper
Greek yogurt (or sour cream)

Brown the onions in a little olive oil over medium-high heat. When they start to get translucent, add the diced apple. When the apple begins to brown and soften, add the diced lamb (or you can remove the apples and onions and set aside, so that picky eaters can have their meat all by itself). Add the spices to the lamb and heat until the meat is hot and begins to sizzle.

If you are serving this right away, go ahead and stir in a good spoonful or two of yogurt into the lamb mixture. But if everyone isn’t gathered at the table all at once, leave the yogurt out and let each person add a dollop to their own sandwich. Cut warm pita in half, fill each half with the lamb and yogurt, and serve with a big salad. There shouldn’t be any more leftovers!


4 responses

  1. Pingback: Monday Menu | Home Baked

  2. Pingback: Monday Menu | Home Baked

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