Nicolai Lipscomb relocated to Boston from California to snag his first kitchen job. Then he called No. 9 Park chef-owner Barbara Lynch every Tuesday at 3 p.m. for three months, until she hired him.
Her reluctance to bring him aboard was understandable: Then only 21 years old, Lipscomb had gone to college to become an electrical engineer and had never worked in a professional kitchen. "The first couple of weeks were rough," admits Lipscomb. "The chef would tell me to go to the walk-in for arugula, and I'd come back with parsley."
Ten years later, Lipscomb is now chef de cuisine at Fifth Floor in San Francisco, a position he took after a year spent in some of the top kitchens in Spain, including Arzak and El Celler de Can Roca. For Sous Chef Series, Lipscomb took advantage of his sunny backyard, grilling a flatbread topped with hummus and homemade lamb sausage (click here for the recipe).
Flatbread with Hummus and Lamb Sausage
Recipe adapted from Nicolai Lipscomb, Fifth Floor, San Francisco
Yield: 2 flatbreads
Cook Time: 45 minutes
½ cup chicken broth
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup tahini (sesame paste)
Juice of 2 lemons
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1⅓ cups semolina flour, plus extra for rolling
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing on the dough
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup roughly chopped fresh herbs (such as basil, chives, cilantro, mint, parsley and/or tarragon)
12 ounces lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons harissa powder
1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1. Make the hummus: In a blender, purée the chicken broth, chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and salt, stopping the blender to scrape down the sides of the jar as needed. Use a rubber spatula to transfer to an airtight container, cover and refrigerate.
2. Make the flatbread dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the semolina flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk. Add ½ cup water and the oil and whisk to combine; with the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the egg mixture until well combined and the dough is well hydrated and pulls away from the sides. Set a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter, turn the dough out onto it, wrap the dough and set aside for 30 minutes. Place a pizza stone in the oven (or on a grill) and heat the oven to 550° (or heat the grill to high).
3. Make the sausage: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the lamb, harissa, garlic, thyme, rosemary, olive oil and salt until finely chopped, about five 1-second pulses. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the mixture into a medium bowl and set aside.
4. Generously flour a cutting board and turn the dough out onto it, then generously flour the top. Divide the dough in half and lightly shape each into a round. Roll a piece out into a 10-inch circle that is approximately ¼ to ⅛ inch thick, adding more flour as needed (the dough is sticky). Transfer the dough to the back of a semolina-dusted baking sheet or semolina-dusted pizza peel and place it on the hot pizza stone.
5. Cook the dough until there are small brown spots about the size of a dime on the bottom of the dough, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, pour a tablespoon or two of oil into a small bowl. Place the hummus on the counter. Open the oven door and brush the top side of the flatbread with some of the olive oil. Use a metal spatula to flip the dough over, then spread the top with some hummus. Add a few tablespoon-size knobs of lamb sausage and continue to cook until the lamb is cooked through and the edges of the dough are crisp, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the feta and the chopped fresh herbs. Slice and serve hot. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough and toppings.