Outdoor Skillet-Bread with Lamb and Pea Pesto (Bålbrød med lam og erterpesto)

April 6, 2018
Outdoor Skillet-Bread with Lamb and Pea Pesto (Bålbrød med lam og erterpesto)

Outdoor Skillet-Bread with Lamb and Pea Pesto (Bålbrød med lam og erterpesto)Outdoor Skillet Pizza with Lamb and Pea PestoA crackling fire set amidst the backdrop of nature is one of the most pleasant and fulfilling ways to cook. There’s a connection between the ingredients, the process, and the finished meal that completely transcends the traditional kitchen.

One thing you learn quickly when living in Norway is that your home extends beyond a structure’s walls. Your time is shared both under a roof and in the open expanse of the surrounding landscape. Not even bad weather can, nor should, contain an individual to an enclosed space. That’s why every opportunity to explore the outdoors is relished upon.

Outdoor Skillet Pizza with Lamb and Pea PestoOutdoor Skillet Pizza with Lamb and Pea PestoThe time during påske (Norwegian Easter) is no exception. A week of trips to the cabin or, for those without access who might have to stick to concrete walkways, perhaps lengthy trips to parks and gardens or nearby ski slopes. The holiday is about the outdoors. It’s embedded in the celebrations. And what better way to enhance the celebrations, the hygge, then to cook over an open fire as you breathe in the brisk air and gaze upon the majesty of creation and the changing of the seasons.

I created this particular dish with påske in mind, although it can be enjoyed any time of year. Påske is the unofficial dividing line between winter and spring, even if the winter still lingers or spring has already arrived. It’s a declaration of new things ahead and the table is the perfect setting to exemplify the flavors of spring.

Outdoor Skillet Pizza with Lamb and Pea PestoOutdoor Skillet Pizza with Lamb and Pea PestoOutdoor Skillet Pizza with Lamb and Pea PestoIf there’s one ingredient that encapsulates Norwegian påske on the dining table, it’s lamb.

We traditionally serve a roasted lamb leg with all the trimmings of potatoes and spring vegetables. And while we fill our bellies full, there’s always a good amount of leftovers to use up in the days to come. And that’s exactly where this overflowing skillet-bread evolved from; leftover pieces of succulent lamb.

Pulling out our bålpanne (tripod grill) and bringing the meal outdoors means everyone is entertained, while at same time relaxed and as much a part of the cooking process as everyone else. The skillet bread – thick, yet light and soft – cooks wonderfully over the fire and acts as an ideal base that can hold up to the lamb and all of the other toppings. A smear of pea “pesto” and a handful of fresh greens add to the feeling of spring. Once sliced and passed around to open hands, it can be enjoyed in the simple splendor of the moment, no matter if winter still remains or spring is in full bloom.

Outdoor Skillet Pizza with Lamb and Pea PestoOutdoor Skillet Pizza with Lamb and Pea PestoCooking over fire is one of the most exciting ways to cook and if you’re feeling somewhat apprehensive, this is a really good dish to start with. The bread is pretty forgiving (as long as you keep an eye on it) since it cooks throughly very quickly.  You don’t need to use a lid when cooking, but if you want to use another type of cheese you will need one to make sure the cheese melts without overcooking the bottom of the bread. The dough is a wet dough and needs an hour to rise, so be sure to take into account the rising time when preparing the fire. Feel free to increase the recipe depending upon how many people there are. And, as always, I hope you are inspired to use the ingredients you have on hand – the bread is a great base for a variety of toppings.

Outdoor Skillet-Bread with Lamb and Pea Pesto (Bålbrød med lam og erterpesto)

Serves 2

For the bread:

  • ¾ cup (180 ml) warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ envelop (3.5 g) instant dry yeast
  • 1 ¾ cups (210 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon good quality rapeseed oil (or another mild-flavored oil)

For the pea pesto:

  • ¼ cup (45 g) frozen peas, defrosted
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) good quality rapeseed oil (or another mild-flavored oil)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill or ½ teaspoon dried dill
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

To assemble: 

  • 1 teaspoon oil for skillet
  • Pre-cooked lamb meat, cut into slices and warmed on the grill
  • 1/3 cup (25 g) blue cheese, crumbled
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Handful of mixed greens
  • 1 tablespoon good quality rapeseed oil (or another mild-flavored oil)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons crème fraiche
  • Cracked pepper, to taste

Start by preparing the dough. Combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast in a jar or medium bowl and let sit for a few minutes or until the mixture becomes frothy. Mix the flour and salt together and pour into a stand mixer with the dough attachment. Add in the yeast mixture and oil and knead on medium-low for a few minutes to combine. The dough will be “wet” – sticky to the touch, yet pliable. This is exactly what you are looking for, do not be tempted to add more flour.

Using a spatula, scrape the wet dough into a well-oiled large bowl and cover with a tea towel. Place in a warm area and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.


Use this time to prepare a fire in a tripod (bålpanne) or other controlled area with a grill rack set above the flames. The fire is ready when the embers are glowing and there are still a few flames.


Prepare the pea pesto by placing the peas, rapeseed oil, garlic clove, and salt in a food processor and pulse until blended, but still slightly coarse. Set aside.


When the dough has risen, place it on a lightly-floured surface. Sprinkle the tops with a little flour and with your hands fold the sides over toward the center to form a ball, adding very little flour -if needed- to help shape. The dough is now ready to be cooked.

Grease a 9-inch / 23 cm cast-iron skillet with 1 teaspoon oil, spreading the oil around the skillet with a paper towel. Place over the prepared fire on top of a grill rack. After 1 minute, press the prepared dough into the skillet with a spatula or your fingers, pushing it out to the sides – being careful not to touch the hot skillet with your hands.

While the bread is cooking, place the lamb slices on the grill to re-heat.

Cook the dough for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the bottom of the dough is golden brown and slightly firm. Turn over and cook a further 3 minutes or until the dough is firm throughout.

When the bread is firm throughout, spread the pea pesto on top. Sprinkle with the blue cheese (or another type of cheese to your liking), and top with the lamb and red onion slices. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, or until the cheese is beginning to melt.

Use a heat pad to remove the skillet from the grill and place on a heat-proof surface.

Top with the mixed greens, and drizzle with the rapeseed oil and crème fraiche. Season with cracked black pepper. Slice and serve immediately.


 

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2 Comments

  • Reply Little Cooking Tips April 7, 2018 at 7:01 am

    Hi Nevada!
    It’s amazing how the cuisines can be so similar even though the places and the people are different. Reading this beautiful post about paske, which is called pascha in Greece (Πάσχα), was like reading about the Greek Orthodox Easter in so many ways!
    The roasted lamb (whole or legs) is THE traditional Easter food for us here. And is Easter is about the outdoors, just like you described.
    LOVED your beautiful post, the photos, the text and the recipe where all awesome!
    Sending you hugs from Greece!
    Mirella and Panos

    • Reply nevada April 25, 2018 at 9:03 am

      Thanks Mirella and Panos! I just love how we find so many similarities cross-culturally. It just goes to show how connected we all really are, no matter where we are born.

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