Listen to me about burgers, because burgers I know.
There will be no complaining in this entry about my fear of being able to master a complicated recipe. There will be no rings of frustration over unfamiliar cooking terms and obscure ingredients I’ll have to buy and will never have need for again.
Because I really like burgers. I like juicy, thick, messy burgers. I like to make burgers.
And I’m good at it, too.
If there’s ever a line for them outside my door, be wise. Get into it.
This is an entry about staying in on a Saturday night with friends and food, booze and television, and really good burgers. I’ll be a little sad inside when I finish writing it.
In the last few months, I’ve worked my way through Ale House Burgers, Black Bean Burgers, Lamb Sliders, and Burgers Diane, all of which have been met with glowing praise, happy stomachs and zero leftovers. On my horizon are Garlic Burgers, Teriyaki Hawaiian Burgers, and Tex-Mex Chicken Cheddar Burgers.
My meat of choice is ground lamb, whether called for or not. It’s a terrific alternative to ground beef. It cooks just as quickly and it’s usually less expensive per pound. It’s a good source of protein, but unfortunately also a source of high saturated fat (to avoid this, head for the turkey burgers). Tender and slightly buttery when cooked, it retains its shape but still manages to melt in your mouth. And its flavor has more subtlety than ground beef, which allows it to pair nicely with some more off-beat burger seasonings like mint and cinnamon (both a part of this recipe).
Our friends Michael and Aki made the trip up from San Diego for food, drinks, board games and bad tv (Bobby Van’s ill-fated daytime game show The Fun Factory, a real “oh dear” moment in television history – post of its own to soon follow). What could be better? Michael and Aki brought the wine, I brought the Stuffed Mushrooms, MG brought the sparkling wit and the sparkling blue eyes, and these burgers soon followed, along with a simple pasta salad to fill out the plate and add a little more color.
I was a little worried at the amount of mint called for in the sauce. When I dumped the quarter cup into the bowl, my guests were concerned as well. It really looks like too much mint. Happily, once well mixed with the yogurt and the garlic, it settles into its place without overpowering the rest of the burger. If you’re still not sure you want to go there, serve it on the side and let the guests find the combination that’s right for them. Any leftover also goes great with Baked Falafel.
Enough chit chat. Enough bragging. These are traditional enough in taste, with just a little something extra. You can get about six patties out of this recipe. I smuggled two away to the fridge as soon as they were done and ate them both the next day for lunch.
Lamb Burgers with Garlic Yogurt Sauce
- 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled
- 1 teaspoons allspice, 1/3 palmful
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 palmful
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, eyeball it in your palm
- 1 small red chile pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Handful plain bread crumbs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup mint leaves, minced
- 4 large soft pitas
- 1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1/2 small red cabbage, shredded
Put the lamb in bowl. Grate the onion over the bowl so that the pulp of the onion and juices fall into the meat. Add the spices, chile pepper, egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper, to taste, and mix to combine. Form the meat mixture into 4-6 patties.
Heat a large skillet with oil over medium-high heat. Cook the patties about 10 minutes, turning once.
While the patties cook, add the yogurt to a small bowl. Grate the garlic into the yogurt using a fine grater or zester. Add the mint and stir to combine.
Brown the pitas and drop in your burgers. Top with garlic-mint yogurt and shredded cabbage.
Emmy winning news producer Michael “Twickles” Rozzen steps in to manage the shredding of the cabbage. Well, it’s not exactly shredding as the recipe calls for, but when an Emmy winner volunteers to help with the less interesting prep steps, who am I to refuse?
Michael and Aki brought the assorted desserts, courtesy of La Provence Bakery in Beverly Hills. As you can see below, little interest was taken.
Two satisfied diners and one fat cat in position for some late-night tv viewing and then some sweet dreams.