Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Lamb, pita and the grill

The bread compulsion continues. I thought it might be fun, interesting, delicious,… to make pita. I have taken to putting a pizza stone onto the racks of the outdoor grill and cranking the heat up. That's what pita needs anyway. Of course with pita you must have lamb, lettuce, onion, tomato, tzaziki and cheap red wine. That was dinner yesterday.

First the pita.

Pita is pretty easy to make. Takes some kneading, but nice and straightforward – wuick too.


500 gm bread flour (although next time I may use AP flour, it was a wee bit chewy)

325 gm room temp. water

1 ½ t active dry yeast

2T Olive oil

2 t kosher salt.


When using active dry yeast, you need to hydrate it a bit first. You can't just dump it into the flour and hope. So stir the yeast into the water. Leave for the time it takes to weigh the flour. Add the water/yeast to the flour. Mix together and add the olive oil. Continue to until it has all come together. Turn out on to the work surface and knead until the mass is cohesive. About 2 minutes. Then add the salt – simply sprinkle onto the dough and knead smoothly and vigorously for 10 minutes. The dough should become shiny and elastic.

Transfer to your fermentation container and leave at room temp for a couple of hours (until doubled). If it is going quicker than you want, retard it in the fridge for a bit.

After it has risen, dump it out of the container onto the work surface. Pat the dough into a rectangle – about 8 inches by 5 inches (size doesn't matter here). Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a circle, and leave to rest on a lightly floured parchment lined baking sheet. Flour the top of each ball lightly and cover with plastic wrap.

Heat the grill with a pizza stone on it until the temperature is around 550 degrees. You will want to use low heat and letthis take at least 30 minutes – preferably an hour.

Rest the dough balls until they have increased in size by about half. Taking each ball, flatten it gently on the floured work surface, flour a rolling pin and roll the individual dough balls out until they are 6-8 inches in diameter. Transfer 2 dough rounds to a baker's peel or upside down baking sheet (having sprinkled some cornmeal onto the peel or sheet to prevent sticking)

Slide the dough rounds onto the hot pizza stone, and close the lid. Cook for 60 seconds – the sheets should puff up. Flip them over and give them another 60 seconds. The timing is not precise, so check carefully. When done transfer to a wire rack and cook the remainder – 2 at a time. For a final warming (if you want) sprinkle each pita with a little (few drops) of water and put back in the hot grill for a few seconds – while the meat is cooking.

Grilled lamb pieces

These are cut to go nicely into the pockets of the pita, above. For the 2 of us, I used about 1lb leg of lamb cut into ¾ inch cubes.


1lb leg of lamb in ¾ inch cubes

1 cup olive oil

A handful each of marjoram and oregano roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves

Salt and pepper to taste.


Season the lamb. Mix the herbs, olive oil and garlic together. Add the lamb to the marinade and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Remove from the fridge and let stand for at least 30 minutes to warm up. This helps it cook more evenly.

When ready, grill the lamb pieces over the hot part of the grill, moving it around to limit flare-ups. Flaring is inevitable because of the olive oil. After a couple of minutes, the flare-ups stop and you can leave the meat to get nice marks from the grill.

Leave to stand while you tear some lettuce leaves, warm the pita and chop some tomatoes.

Serve with the pita/lettuce/tomatoes/tzaziki/raw onion and a bottle of light red wine – we had a chilled Beaujolais costing all of $7 per bottle!

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