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In 2014, I visited the farm of my chef friend Musa Dagdeviren outside of Istanbul, where he had recently built five replicas of ancient or antique Turkish wood-burning ovens. We made lamb tail confit katmer, or flatbreads, in one of the ovens, which inspired me to create this recipe. This style of katmer resembles the Chinese scallion pancake, using yufka, a non-yeasted dough made with milk, egg, and vinegar, which keep the dough tender. The yufka is rolled out like a tortilla and filled with a spreadable lamb sausage flavored with cumin and dried spearmint. It’s then shaped into a rope, spiraled like a serpentine, and rolled out before cooking.
These are best served hot, cut into wedges with a dollop of pistachio yogurt for a very rich breakfast, brunch, or lunch.
Cook’s Note: Katmer can be filled, coiled, and then frozen on a baking sheet. They will take about 20 minutes to thaw, and then you can roll them out to flatten them before cooking as instructed above. If you have leftovers, these cooked katmer reheat beautifully in a toaster oven or conventional oven or on a cast-iron griddle.
- 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt or labneh
- 3/4 cup very finely chopped lightly toasted pistachios
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat parsley leaves
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound ground lamb shoulder or fatty lamb, 80 to 85 percent lean
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried spearmint
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon maras pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Turkish red pepper paste
- 1 egg white
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions, mostly the white part
- olive oil, for brushing
- kosher salt, for sprinkling
For the katmer
Lightly flour a work surface.
To make the yufka dough, sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the water, milk, egg, oil, and vinegar. Using your hands, draw the flour in from all sides, working the mixture until it forms a sticky ball. Turn out onto the floured surface and knead until it’s smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. If the dough is still very sticky, add a little more flour until it stops sticking to your hands. Divide the dough in half and then divide each half into six equal pieces; you should have twelve 2-inch balls.
Cover the dough with parchment paper or a clean towel and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.
To make the pistachio yogurt, in a small mixing bowl, combine the garlic, lemon juice, and 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt and set aside for 5 minutes to soften the raw flavor of the garlic. Whisk in the yogurt until it’s smooth, then stir in the pistachio and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. (You can also do this in a food processor fitted with a metal blade to achieve a smoother texture and a brighter color of green.)
To make the lamb filling, in a mixing bowl, combine the lamb, cumin, spearmint, oregano, Maras pepper, black pepper, red pepper paste, egg white, and green onion until everything is smooth and creamy. Set aside.
Lightly flour a work surface. Lightly flour a baking sheet.
Place one of the dough balls on the prepared work surface and roll out until 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Divide the lamb mixture into 12 portions, each weighing approximately 1 1⁄4 ounces. Place one of the lamb portions on the flatbread, flattening it out and spreading it on the dough gently without breaking or tearing the dough.
Make a hole in the center of each yufka and roll the dough from the inside to the outside, moving around the circle so that you have a perfectly even round ring when you are finished. Cut the ring in the middle and coil it up like a serpentine. Tuck the tail into the center and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. (You can freeze the katmer at this point.)
Roll out each serpentine to 5 inches in diameter and 1⁄4 inch thick, being careful not to roll so hard that the filling pushes out of the dough. Some may start to show through the dough, which is okay.
Lightly oil each side of the katmer by brushing with a little olive oil. Place a large cast-iron skillet over low heat. When it is hot, place two katmer (if you can fit them) in the skillet and cook until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes per side. When they are done, you will be able to see some of the juices from the lamb start to bubble out of the dough. Sprinkle lightly with salt and stack them on top of each other. Cover with foil to keep warm. Cut into wedges and serve with a generous amount of the pistachio yogurt.