lamb pizza

lamb pizza with pine nuts and mint

My favorite pizza dough recipe of all time (so far) is from the book Home Baking by Alford and Duguid. It’s just the perfect blend of white and whole wheat, with just the right amount of chew and crispiness and not at all doughy. The recipe I got it from, however, isn’t a traditional pizza – it’s a middle-eastern lamb flatbread often made as a street food.

In the original recipe, the pizzas are cooked one at a time as small, personal-size breads in a skillet, then finished under the broiler, rolled up like burritos and eaten immediately with mint and yogurt. This time, though, I wanted to have it all done at once so we could sit and enjoy our pizza together. So I followed my usual pizza-making format and baked two pizzas at very high heat, adding the toppings at appropriate points. It worked! The other way is good, but this was very, very tasty. And I was so excited to find a little bit of fresh mint in my garden to sprinkle on top!

While we were eating, I was reminded of a pizza that my friends and I often got in college – the “gyros pizza” from the two local Greek-owned pizzerias (run by competing brothers). I don’t remember the exact toppings, but it was a spiced beef or lamb pizza that always came with a container of tsatsiki sauce. It was delicious. You could definitely do the same sort of thing here, just by crushing some garlic into a bowl of yogurt, maybe adding a bit more mint. Yum.

lamb pizza

Middle-eastern Lamb Pizza

Dough for two pizzas (you can see the recipe I use here, but you could use any good yeasted bread dough, preferably with a bit of whole wheat flour)

For the lamb topping:

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tamarind pulp
  • 4 Tbsp hot water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Additional toppings:

  • fresh mint leaves, torn up
  • pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 500°.

Soak the tamarind pulp in the hot water and squish it around a bit, then pour the liquid through a strainer into a small bowl. Squash the pulp against the strainer to get as much tamarind flavor into the liquid as possible. Reserve the liquid, toss the leftover pulp. 

Saute the onion in a bit of oil until translucent, then add the lamb and break it up in the pan. Add the tamarind liquid, stir well and let simmer for five minutes. Add the other seasonings and remove from the heat.

Roll out half your dough into a fairly thin round and transfer it onto your hot pizza stone. Working fast, dump half of your lamb filling onto the pizza and scatter it evenly. Get the oven door closed. After five minutes or so, pull out the rack and scatter a handful of pine nuts over the pizza. Put it back in for 3-5 minutes, until the edges of the pizza look golden and crispy. Take it out of the oven and sprinkle the fresh mint over it.

Slice and eat, dipping each piece into yogurt-garlic sauce, if desired.

7 thoughts on “lamb pizza

  1. As happens in times of unpredicted discombobulation, which in this instance can mean too many chefs in the kitchen, recipes get mangled and they morph into something else… luckily phenomenally good. At least the basic premise was initiated. Our most honorable intention was to follow the recipe to a “T” but I got slammed by a rush of customers late yesterday which prolonged my exit, and then a friend stopped in and said, “lets all go out to eat”. And we said that we had the fixins for what appears to be a killer recipe for lamb pizza and they said, “great, bring it over!”

    So by the time I saw what was going on, the lamb, onions, and mushrooms were simmering in the skillet. Mushrooms? Okay, those are earthy. I can do earth. I was able to get the cinnamon, garlic and tamarind extract into the mix. (BTW, we got the last jar of tamarind at the Co-op, and they said they won’t be carrying it anymore). We grabbed that Italian pre-made pizza bread, starts with a “B”, as a necessary short cut. We also forgot to acquire pine nuts, yogurt and mint. So, cilantro was substituted, red and yellow bell peppers, and fresh romas were tossed on right before entry into the oven. We used the sour cream with a dollop of the tamarind and a ton of garlic for a dipping sauce which quickly turned from dipping to layering on the top. It was bloody hell delicious.

    We followed it up with a Blackwood Canyon 17 year old Semillon… not every ones’ cup of tea but the acidity and slightly over-oxidized funk was incredible with the pizza.

    After much silence from the feeding frenzy that ensued, we all started thinking of how many other tangents we could come up with and the final consensus was how great this would be in a shepherd’s pie format… layered over a gigantic plate of garlic mashed potatoes.

    PS… thanks for the bay leaves and we sold a CD yesterday.


  2. Holy cow,you did all that and you didn’t bring me a piece? I’m very disappointed.

    However, I am really loving the idea of garlic-tamarind shepherd’s pie…hmmm, what about mashed sweet potatoes?

  3. It was amazing we even got it to the table with as much posturing and nonconsensus yakking in incomplete sentences and all at the same time that was going on. Adherence to standards at that point is not going to happen. As far as leftovers, I think I saw some people scraping the burnt residuals off of the pizza pan with their finger nails.

    Sweet potatoes sound real good and for some of us that have white starch issues, maybe a mashed cauliflower base?

  4. I was just leafing through this book again (for the hundreth time) before I fell asleep last night, and I kept coming back to this recipe as one I want to make soon. Your photos are drool-worthy!

  5. Dana –

    You definitely must make this pizza! I haven’t had success with everything I’ve tried out of that book, much as I love it, but the lamb pizza is a winner.

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