Grilled Lamb Pitas
At the end of every summer, our church would hold a park picnic to eat great food, raise money for building restorations, and honestly just celebrate being Armenian. Highlights included competitive oriental rug raffles, interesting musical offerings, 4,000 pieces of baklava, and someone trying to arrange a marriage between Hillary and a man fresh off the boat. When we arrived, we would take at least an hour trying to make the most difficult choice of our lives, between lamb burgers and lamb kabobs (decision making is really not our strong suit, especially when it comes to eating.. my cousin refers to this as the "Gozigian hemhaw")
In it's heyday, this picnic was one of our collective favorite childhood memories. I have visions of my grandpa holding court, destroying everyone in backgammon, and forever being one of the most respected members of the church. We stopped being able to come back every year, and started missing those warm early September days, watching our family members take turns on the grill, getting an extra plate of food because we've been savages since birth, and would always decide we needed both.
This interpretation of a lamb burger has many merits, specifically the way the meat is cooked inside of the pita pocket, rather than directly on the grill. It creates this sort of melty, jammy, softly cooked burger, which contrasted with the crunch of the outside of the pita, is without a doubt going to be a new summer staple. I think we have those picnic days to thank.
Grilled Lamb Pitas
Yield - Serves 8
2 pounds ground lamb, preferably shoulder
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for grilling
8 thick medium pita breads with pockets
Mix lamb, onion, parsley, mint, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and ¼ cup oil in a large bowl. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
Prepare grill for medium heat and oil grate. Working one at a time, open each pita pocket by cutting along seam, halfway around perimeter. Spoon filling into pitas, spreading to edges. Close, pressing on filling to seal.
Grill pitas until filling is cooked through and bread is crisp, about 5 minutes per side.