It all happened by chance. I was saying goodbye to a friend at my front door when Don & Yoko, my delightful neighbours, arrived with a friend of theirs, Noriko, who was staying in their flat. I didn’t know her but I loved her because she was so quiet. Don & Yoko introduced us saying that Noriko is an animation artist. I liked her even more — one of my heroes is Jan Svankmajer. We said hello and I went back in. But as I climbed the stairs up to my loft I thought it would be quite wonderful to have an animated cooking video instead of the more common filmed ones where the chef says and now you add this then stir that and so on. So, I asked Noriko if she would be interested in collaborating with me on doing a monthly animated cooking video, just like my belly dancer of the month! She liked the idea and here is the first one, of a recipe that I found on a postcard and which I love. I hope you will also like it, both the Berber hamburger and the animated video!

Medfouna or Berber Hamburger All-in-One

There is some confusion regarding the name of this bread. Medfouna, Arabic for buried, is also used to describe a Moroccan dish of vermicelli and stewed pigeons in which the stewed pigeons are “buried” under a mound of steamed vermicelli. That medfouna is a far grander dish than this stuffed bread, which is a southern specialty. I found a recipe for this bread on a postcard while browsing through a rack of them in Marrakech. Moroccans cook the bread either on a hot stone, in which case the bread is covered with hot ashes, or they cook it in a regular wood-fired oven. My friend Hajj N’guyr Mustafa, who makes the best mechoui in Marrakech, says that medfouna can also be made with khlii, dried preserved strips of spiced beef. Makes 6 to 8 servings

For the filling

2 pounds (i kg) lamb shoulder, trimmed of skin and fat and finely diced

2 small onions, very finely chopped

½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon fine kosher salt or sea salt

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the bread

1 ½ teaspoons (2/3 package) easy blend yeast

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and shaping

1 1/3 cups fine semolina or semolina flour

1 ½ teaspoons fine kosher salt or sea salt

Combine the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Let marinate, stirring occasionally, as the dough is prepared.

Make the bread: Combine the flours, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually add 1 1/4 cup warm water, bringing in the flour by hand or with a spoon or rubber spatula. Knead for 2 to 3 minutes to make a rough ball of dough.

Remove the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 3 minutes. Shape into a ball. Invert the bowl over the dough and let rest for 15 minutes. Knead for about 2 minutes more, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball again and place in a lightly floured clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour. Fold the dough and let rise, covered, for 1 hour more.

Return the dough to work surface. Divide in 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Shape each piece into a ball, place the balls on a floured surface, and sprinkle a little flour over them. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Roll out the smaller piece of dough, flouring the work surface and the dough occasionally, to a circle about 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. Transfer the dough to a large nonstick baking dish measuring the same, or a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or a silicone pastry mat. Prick the surface with a fork here and there. Spread the meat filling evenly over the dough, leaving about 3/4 inch around the edges. Brush the edges with water. Roll out the other piece of dough to a slightly larger circle. Place this circle over the filling, aligning the edges and press gently on the edges to seal. Prick the top of the dough in a few places. Cover with a wet but not dripping kitchen towel (or cling film) and let rise for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C.

Bake for 45 minutes, until crisp and golden brown all over. Remove from the oven; if there is juice that has run out of the meat and is soaking the bread, carefully tip the baking dish or sheet and drain the juice. Let the bread rest for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve hot or warm, or let cool completely and freeze for later use. If freezing, keep the bread wrapped as it defrosts. Once it has thawed, reheat in a 400 F/200 C  oven for 10 to 15 minutes and serve.

@Anissa Helou, from Savory Baking from the Mediterranean



There is 13 comments on this post

Leave a Comment