Michael Solomonov is the acclaimed executive chef from Zahav, the Philadelphia hot spot with a modern take on Israeli food. Solomonov was born in Israel but grew up in Pennsylvania and after years of working in a variety of fine dining restaurants like Avenue B and Verti, Zahav returned to his roots.
Here are his recipes for Laffa bread, Hummus-Masbacha and Whole-Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Pomegranate.
(makes approximately 20 loaves)
2 tbsp dry active yeast
1.5 tbsp sugar
1 cup warm filtered water
10 oz pastry flour
3 lbs 4 oz all purpose flour
1/4 kosher salt
5 cups tepid filtered water
Preparing the Laffa Bread:
Whisk together the first three ingredients and allow the yeast to proof, approximately 10 minutes. Add the dry ingredients together with the yeast starter to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed, gradually adding the water, until a smooth, sticky dough forms. You may not need all of the water. Let the dough proof at room temperature until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Put a pizza stone or upside down cookie sheets on the oven rack. With wet hands, pinch off a baseball-sized ball of dough and form into a small round loaf. Place loaf on a floured surface and allow to rise until doubled in size, approximately 10 minutes.
Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface into a round, approximately 1/4 inch thick and 12 inches in diameter. Place the round on a pizza peel or the bottom of a sheet tray, dusted with flour. Carefully slide the dough onto the pizza stone and bake until puffed and lightly golden brown, approximately one minute. Serve immediately.
1 lb dry chickpeas
1 tbsp baking soda
1 whole head of garlic with the skin on, plus one clove with the germ removed
Approximately 4 oz of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 lb unhulled sesame paste
4 oz grape seed oil
6 oz extra virgin olive oil (preferably from Turkey or Israel)
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
Preparing the Hummus-Masbacha:
To make the hummus, cover the chickpeas and baking soda with at least double their volume of water and soak, refrigerated, for 18 hours. Drain the chickpeas and rinse thoroughly in cold water. Place the chickpeas in a large pot with the whole head of garlic and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the chickpeas over low heat for approximately three hours, or until very tender. Drain the chickpeas, reserving one cup of the cooking liquid and one cup of whole chickpeas. Discard the garlic bulb. In the bowl of a food processor, add 12 ounces of the sesame paste and the cooked chickpeas. Puree the mixture with the grape seed oil and two ounces of lemon juice, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to achieve a smooth, creamy consistency. Season to taste with kosher salt and ground cumin.
To make the tehina, combine the remaining lemon juice and sesame paste with the garlic clove and ½ cup of warm water in a blender. Blend at high speed until smooth and add 4 ounces of olive oil. If the puree is too tight, adjust the consistency with additional warm water. Season to taste with kosher salt and ground cumin.
To serve, spoon the hummus into a large shallow bowl. Using the back of a spoon, push the hummus to the edges of the bowl to create a well in the center. In a mixing bowl, toss the reserved chickpeas with the tehina sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Spoon the dressed chickpeas into the well in the center of the hummus. Garnish the hummus with the chopped parsley and remaining olive oil. Serve immediately.
Whole-Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Pomegranate
Ingredients for Brine:
3 gallons water
2 lbs kosher salt
10 oz sugar
1 lb whole garlic, heads cut in half
1/2 cup whole allspice
1/2 cup black peppercorns
1/2 cup fennel seed
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch savory
Preparing the Brine:
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large pot. Chill thoroughly before using.
Ingredients for the Whole-Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Pomegranate:
1 Whole lamb shoulder, bone-in, approximately 6 lbs
1 recipe House Brine
1 quart fresh pomegranate juice
1 quart dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water with 1 tsp baking soda
1 quart water
2 sprigs mint
¼ cup Italian parsley, roughly chopped
Preparing the Whole-Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Pomegranate:
Using a fork, puncture the lamb shoulder on all sides. Submerge the lamb in the brine for 48 hours, using a weight if necessary to make sure the lamb is completely submerged. Remove the lamb shoulder from the brine and pat dry. Prepare a charcoal fire and grill the lamb shoulder over indirect heat for approximately 45 minutes on each side, being careful to avoid flare-ups from the dripping fat.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the lamb from the grill and place in a deep roasting pan or rondeau. Drain the chickpeas and rinse thoroughly in cold water. Add the chickpeas and pomegranate juice to the lamb. Add enough water to barely cover the lamb. Cover the roasting pan with a double layer of foil and place in the oven. Braise the lamb in the oven for approximately five hours, or until the meat is easily separated from the bone. Baste the lamb with the braising liquid at least once every hour.
Remove the lamb from the oven and allow to cool in the braising liquid for one hour. Remove the lamb from the roasting pan and transfer the braising liquid to a large saucepot. Simmer the liquid over medium-high heat, skimming regularly to remove excess fat. When the braising liquid is reduced to the point that it coats the back of a spoon (you should have approximately 1 quart of liquid) remove it from the heat and stir in the mint sprigs and parsley.
Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Return the lamb to the roasting pan and spoon one cup of the reserved braising liquid on top of the lamb. Place roasting pan in the oven for approximately 5 minutes, or until the surface of the lamb is caramelized. Remove the lamb to a warm platter. Spoon the reduced braising liquid and chickpeas on top of the lamb. Serve immediately with Persian rice or Moroccan couscous.