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Recipe Development: Pita Arayes
Overview

Eyal introduces us to this celebratory meat pita found all across the Arab world, and explains the secret to achieving a perfect crispy exterior, and juicy rendered interior. Arayes are a true staple of Levantine fire cooking  - absorbing the flavours of the flames. Served alongside a green tahini sauce packed full of herbs, this deceptively simple dish is rich, satisfying and really deserves the finest quality ingredients.

Development Stages

Key Components:

Pita - Eyal’s pita recipe is a simple mixture of flour, water, sugar, yeast (and a pinch of salt). The idea here is to create a pita pocket that can be filled with our meat mixture - so not too thick and not too thin - just enough to absorb the juices of the lamb.

Lamb Mix - Because the meat is cooked indirectly inside the pita pocket, it is important to have a good amount of fat content to melt down in the heat. So Eyal suggests either using a cut that has strong marbling, or adding in some extra fat to the mix.

Green Tahini - we have used tahini earlier in the course, but this time Eyal shows us how to introduce other flavours during the ‘opening’ process. By adding herbs into the water, the aromas are incorporated into the tahini while it emulsifies.

Teachings:

  1. Butchery skills - learn how to break down and debone a leg of lamb, sharpening your knife skills and your understanding of how to work with different muscle groups from different meat cuts
  2. Dough and flatbread making - discover the different hydration levels that are required for a flatbread, and harness the natural gluten of your dough to get a good puffed rise.
  3. Building a fire and cooking on a grill - gain an understanding of how to structure your fire to allow for different heat zones, using charcoal or wood - maintaining suitable cooking temperatures with direct grill contact.

Make It Your Own:

  • Different meats - When using other cuts of meat from different animals you will need to consider the natural fat content of whatever you were using. Using pork for instance will add a fattier flavour and render more juice into the pita - whereas beef is slightly leaner so will require the addition of more supplementary fat
  • Herbs and spices for filling - once you are comfortable with making this dish, why not add alternative herbs and spices to your meat mixture. Baharat is traditional, but you can just as easily use Lebanese spice blends with sumac and ginger for example. But remember, you want to make sure that the spices complement the meat you have chosen as a filling for your Arayes (mint and lamb for example)
  • Herbs and spices for the tahini - The same can be said for your tahini, try to consider what would complement the meat and herbs you have used for your Arayes - maybe if you used pork as a filling you could blend some roasted red peppers into your water mixture to create a red tahini! Or if its beef, why not incorporate some more citrussy notes into the tahini with some lime or sumac.
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I think food is at its best when it’s fresh, simple...unpretentious. The most important thing? Ingredients - I am obsessed with quality.