Arayes: Lebanese Meat-Stuffed Pockets

August 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

J:  One night recently, as we so often do, Erik and I were trying to figure out what we were going to make for dinner that week.  Ideas were hard to come by, so we turned to a resource we knew would probably yield a couple ideas: the Food Network website.  We ended up settling on a recipe by Aarti Sequeira, of “Aarti Party” fame, for Lebanese “meat-stuffed pitas,” or arayes.  We made a few minor changes and additions, but mostly this was quite a tasty (and really quite easy) recipe.

One of the bigger changes we made was substituting ground turkey for the ground beef as the meat, since we don’t eat a whole lot of red meat.  This was perfectly tasty, but we lost a bit of the hearty earthiness that the ground beef would have imparted.  Fortunately a few add-ins compensated for that: if you go the ground turkey route as well, try adding some barbecue sauce and/or some grated cheese (go with something fairly strong and earthy; we used a combination of cheddar and asiago).  Heck, even if you do go with ground beef, you can try adding those things as well!  And let us know how it turns out for you.

meat pocket!

Now, on to the recipe.

Arayes
(slightly modified from original recipe here)

1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small bunch fresh parsley, minced
1 lb ground turkey (or beef if you prefer)
1 small tomato, finely diced
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 c slivered almonds, roughly chopped (original recipe used pine nuts but we couldn’t find any)
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt
10 medium-sized tortillas
Olive oil, for brushing

So, this is quite simple really.  Get your oven preheating to 400, and then mix together your chopped onion, garlic, and parsley in a good-sized bowl.

green and white

Next, add the ground turkey (or beef), diced tomatoes, garam masala, almonds, and lemon juice to the same bowl.  Season with salt, to taste (don’t be shy; this needs a bit of salt to kick up the flavors), and mix everything together with your hands — or a spoon, if you’re leery of playing with raw meat with bare hands!  If you’re really pro, you could also put on latex gloves and dig right in, but we didn’t have any, so I just went for it.

the end result of mixing

To form the pockets, spoon some of the mixture onto one side of a tortilla, so that there’s more of the mixture towards one side (the “top”).  Now is when you’d add barbecue sauce and/or cheese, if you choose to do so.  Roll the tortilla so that it forms a cone-shape.  Brush some olive oil on a baking sheet, set the pocket on it, and lightly brush some more olive oil all over the pocket.

meat pockets ready to be baked

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.  About halfway through, take the baking sheet out and “flip” all the cones so that they bake evenly on all sides.  If you don’t do this, as we learned with our first batch, you run the risk of meat pockets that are very very soggy on one side — not terribly appetizing.  But we made sure to flip the other batches and they all came out nicely crisped at the ends, so you shouldn’t have any trouble.

Serve with a vegetable of your choice (we had some carrots gently sautéed with wine and garlic), and enjoy.

meat cones: tastier than they sound

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