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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Lahem bil-Ajeen (Minced Meat, Tomato and Onion Bread)


This past Labor Day Weekend was spent painting (a very happy light lavender) and organizing my middle-schooler's bedroom.  By Monday, I was tired of grabbing food on the go and wanted to make something really good.  My high schooler requested Laham bil-ajeen.  

Laham bil-ajeen is Arabic that translates to English as 'dough with meat.'  It is a popular dish in Lebanon.  I like to refer to it as a cross between a hamburger and pizza.  (Yes, I can hear that collective sigh coming from the Lebanese community about at my descriptor.)
Laham bil-ajeen is somewhat labor intensive so a fitting dish to prepare on Labor Day!  The key is to be organized and spread the preparation over the day along with other chores (or relaxation if you are so inclined).

Although fully capable of making dough from scratch, I prefer use frozen roll dough for this recipe.  It is perfectly portioned and it helps simplify preparation.  I typically double the recipe because Laham bil-ajeen freezes well.  Simply reheat directly on a rack in a 350F oven for a quick after school snack or an easy dinner option.

There are a couple of watch-outs if you are willing to give this recipe a try - and I hope you will!  First, be sure not to let the dough rise too much. I made that mistake once and it was a miserable mess to get straightened out.  Second, be sure to roll all the dough and place on baking trays before spreading the meat mixture on it.  Yes, that will require several cookie trays / half sheet pans.  It is worth the investment.  Placing rolled dough on hot cookie sheets will not give a satisfactory result as the dough will rise too much.  

This recipe was adapted from Anissa Helou's Lebanese Cuisine (1994).  


LAHEM BIL-AJEEN (MINCED MEAT, TOMATO AND ONION BREAD)

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (25 oz. / 709 g) 24 count Parkerhouse style frozen roll dough (such as Bridgeford)
  • approximately 1/2 cup all purpose flour for rolling dough into circles 
  • 1 pounds extra lean (7% fat) ground beef
  • 1/3 cup extra fine diced onion
  • 1 cups finely diced Roma tomatos (2 medium) 
  • 1 teaspoon 'Seven Spice' blend
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
  • Lemon wedges for serving (optional)
  • Plain yogurt for serving (optional)
Directions:  
  1. Thaw rolls in a single layer in a large pan coated with cooking spray and covered with plastic wrap for 1-2 hours (or in refrigerator overnight). 
  2. Roll thawed dough into approximate 4-inch (10 cm) rounds on lightly floured surface and place on parchment lined cookie trays or sheet pans.  (Cookie trays will fit 9 pieces and sheet pans will fit 6 pieces of rolled dough.)
  3. Combine meat, onion, tomatoes, seven spice, and salt until well blended by hand or with a stand mixer (paddle attachments).
  4. Gently add pine nuts if desired. 
  5. Evenly divide meat mixture among the rolled dough pieces and flatten / spread on the dough.
  6. Bake in oven preheated to 400F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown, rotating halfway through baking to achieve an even bake.  
  7. Serve hot or at room temperature with a squeeze of lemon juice and plain yogurt if desired.  
A note about 'Seven Spice': This is a spice blend that is common to Lebanese cooking. My recommendation would be to purchase from an online retailer or a Lebanese / Mediterranean Market. If that is not an option, you can do an internet search to determine how to blend your own glorious spice mix.  

Be sure to separate layers with wax paper or parchment paper when freezing.  Reheat in oven at 350F until heated through.   

4 comments:

Pam said...

It looks delicious, Cali and I know it would be a hit here! Thanks for the tips with the dough and the recipe! I'll be looking for Seven Spice. Thanks again!

Lavender and Lime (http://tandysinclair.com) said...

I've never heard of this. Thanks for introducing me to something new.

grace said...

a cross between hamburger and pizza sounds delicious, even if it pains the people of lebanon to hear it!
also, lavender rooms are the way to go. :)

Cocoa and Lavender said...

Oh, wow! This sounds fantastic!! Can't wait to try them!