In celebration of the long Fourth of July weekend, Kevin and I decided (albeit at the last minute) to make some good ol’ fashioned American hamburgers. I’m not sure if we went to the market at the exact twilight of ground meat outage and replenishment, but we somehow managed to go to a spot where they were completely out of ground beef, turkey, chicken, and bison. Bison (our latest obsession; posts to come later) was what we really wanted for our burgers, but we somehow resigned to ground lamb. Not that anything is wrong with lamb, but it wasn’t exactly what eating at Murica’s birthday party is all about.
I found a recipe on Food & Wine and tailored it to serve the two of us, while also including a bit more zing by upping the herbs-to-meat ratio. See the recipe as adapted below:
Lamb Burgers for two:
- 3/4 lb ground lamb
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 1 garlic glove, minced
- 1/2 T mint, finely chopped
- 1/2 T flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 T dill, finely chopped (pull leaves only, don’t use thick stems)
- Kosher salt and finely ground black pepper
- 2 whole wheat pita bread (or hamburger bun if you prefer)
- 2-3 leaves romaine lettuce
- 4 paper-thin onion slices
- In a medium bowl, lightly knead the ground lamb with the onion, garlic, mint, parsley and 1 scant teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Shape the meat into patties about 1/2 inch thick, and transfer them to a plate lined with plastic wrap. Lightly brush the burgers with olive oil.
- Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil on medium heat, and cook the lamb patties for about 6 minutes on each side. You can also grill the lamb burgers for about 12 minutes, turning once, for medium meat. I was worried about overcooking the lamb, so I stuck a meat thermometer into the patty and cooked til it hit about 140 degrees for medium rare. The patty will continue to cook another 5 degrees once you take it off the pan too.
- Set the burgers on the pita breads and top them with the lettuce, tomato, onion and a spoonful of Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce. Fold the pitas over the burgers and serve right away, passing the remaining yogurt sauce alongside.
In my opinion, you can’t really have a lamb burger with ketchup and mustard, so I looked up a recipe for tzatziki. The recipe below is also adapted from Food & Wine. The version I made was chunkier (I upped the cucumber), lessened the amount of yogurt, and added dill and lemon juice. I had nonfat Fage plain greek yogurt, and it came out on the thicker side. I would recommend a regular, non-Greek yogurt to give it a more “sauce-y” consistency. This made about 1/2 cup, which is probably more than enough for two people. I wouldn’t recommend making too much in advantage and eating leftovers, because the lemon juice and salt will pickle the herbs and cucumber. It’ll taste like a strange creamy dill pickle sauce (I learned the hard way).
- 1 Persian cucumber, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 t kosher salt
- 1/3 C plain yogurt
- 1/2 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 T finely chopped mint
- 1 t finely chopped dill
- 2 lemon wedges’ worth of lemon juice
- Finely ground black pepper to taste
- Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out the seedy center of the cucumber. Dice the cucumber. Squeeze the excess liquid from the cucumber without mashing it (skip if using Greek yogurt).
- In a small bowl, using the back of a spoon, mash the garlic with the salt to a paste. Stir in the yogurt, olive oil, mint, dill, and lemon juice. Add the cucumber, season with pepper and serve.
We also “needed” a salty component for our burger, so I drummed up a sundried tomato tapenade. The following will makes about 1/3 cup: Place 6 pitted kalamata olives and 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes into a food processor and pulse to chop roughly. If you’re using dry sundried tomatoes (I used the ones from Trader Joe’s – my fav!), pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil while pulsing the food processor a few more times to combine. All that being said, the thought of cleaning a food processor after all the chopping/cleaning I’d been doing that day was dreadful, so I chopped everything by hand and then whisked in the olive oil after.
And that my friends was our big fat Greek Fourth of July meal! We celebrated 4th of July with Kevin’s mom over the weekend as well, and she made banh mi sandwiches for us and I cobbled together an Italian pasta salad to bring. It really was a hodge podge of cuisines, but I guess that’s really what eating like an American is all about – celebrating a bit of everything!