These Lamb Burgers Are Really Good
If you like lamb and enjoy a burger now and then, you will love this recipe for grilled lamb burgers. It may be given the distinction of "as good as it gets," my highest rating of a recipe.
Adapted from The BBQ issue of Bon Appetit (which means I made a few changes to suit the tastes of my family or what ingredients I have on hand in my kitchen), this recipe is easy to make. Still, it does take a little longer than just making some patties and throwing them on the grill. However, the extra work is well worth the final results.
When I told my kids and their friend who was over for dinner that we were having lamb burgers, they all said there was no way they would eat them. I was concerned because the recipe calls for adding a little curry to the blend, and I thought it might be a little overwhelming for them.
I was wrong. They ate them all and asked for more.
They even enjoyed the Mint Raita sauce as a topping. These will be prepared again and I'd like to know if I can convert this recipe into a meatloaf in the fall.
If you put them together and serve them, here's what I do. If using pita bread, I like to make a pocket in the bread carefully, slip in a tomato slice, then the burger, spoon some grilled veggies on top, and then a little of the Raita sauce.
If you find some Indian flatbread (called naan and usually about 6 inches long), spread some raita sauce on the bread, add the lamb burger, top with grilled vegetables, and finish with a slice of tomato. Fold in half and serve.
If you have never prepared lamb burgers, I highly recommend this recipe. Some of the ingredients may sound overpowering, but when combined, they are not.
My kids don't eat curry, and they didn't think they would like lamb in burger form, but they all asked for seconds. Even my daughter's friend Olivia, who was over for dinner, enjoyed her lamb burger.
Grilled Lamb Burgers
For the Raita
- 1 cup plain yogurt I used non-fat yogurt but whole-milk yogurt might be better
- 3 tablespoons fresh mint chopped finely
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro also chopped finely
- 1¼ teaspoons lime peel finely grated
- coarse salt like Kosher or sea salt
For the Lamb Burgers & Vegetable Toppings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1¼ cups yellow onion chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger peeled and minced fine
- salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons Garam Masala or Madras curry powder
- 1¾ pounds ground lamb look for domestic lamb if you can find it
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped fine
- 3 medium zucchini cut into ¼ inch thick slices lengthwise
- 6 scallions or green onions
- 6 pita breads or Indian flatbread called naan
- 1 tomato thinly sliced
For the Raita
- Mix the yogurt, mint, cilantro and lime peep in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, to taste and then cover it and stick it into the refrigerator to chill.
For the Burgers
- Take the lamb out of the refrigerator while you prepare the curried onions and ginger. You don't want to work or grill cold chopped meat.
- In a medium sized sauté pan or fry pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot. Add the onions, ginger and season with a little salt.
- When the onions are soft, about 8 minutes, add the Garam Masala or curry powder, stir for 30 seconds and remove from heat. Let this mixture cool to room temperature.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the lamb and onion mixture. Add the cilantro and a little salt and pepper. Don't overwork the meat too much. Gently combine all the ingredients and make six ½-inch thick lamb burgers.
- Place the sliced zucchini and scallions into a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Toss to coat.
- Place the vegetables on the grill. I like using one of those grilling baskets or grates so the vegetables don't fall through. Use a pair of tongs for turning the vegetables.
- On the other side of the grill, start your burgers. Cook for about 4 minutes until you start seeing grill marks and then flip with a spatula and cook on this side for another 4 minutes for medium-rare, longer for medium.
- Remove the vegetables and lamb burgers from the grill and plate. Cut the zucchini and scallions into 2 inch pieces. You can serve this family style and let your friends and/or family put together their own burgers or do it for them.
Friday Night Lamb Burgers with Barbecue Bob & Bert
We have been taking turns dining with Roberta, Robert, and their family on Friday nights, and last night was no exception.
It's hot here in the Philadelphia region, so Bob & Bert decided on Lamb Burgers served with grilled eggplant, a yogurt mint sauce, corn on the cob, and fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella. The tomatoes and basil were fresh from Barbecue Bob's garden.
The recipe came from an old Gourmet Magazine dated August 1997, and the ripped-out page was sitting on the counter. There were four burger recipes on the page and a great story behind them.
It turns out Bert, wife of Barbecue Bob, was six months pregnant at the time this particular issue of Gourmet came out and she was craving meat. She happened upon these recipes and asked Bob to go out and get the ingredients for each burger recipe so she could have a different one each night of the week.
Barbecue Bob, being the great husband he is and concerned about the grief he might face if he didn't obey, ran out, purchased the ingredients, and served his wife a different burger four nights in a row. What a guy!
I love hamburgers, and I'm wondering why I haven't thought about making a lamb burger before this experience. I believe burgers were made with beef - end of story.
Now that story has a new beginning, I can't wait to make some myself.
Where to Get Ground Lamb
You may be surprised, but a lot of supermarkets now carry freshly ground lamb. They also sell ground lamb in frozen tube-shaped packaging, but I would stay away from that and go with only freshly ground lamb.
If you find some freshly ground lamb, it probably comes from the lean meat and trimmings from the breast, neck, flank, shoulder, rib, loin, leg, or shank.
If they don't have any on the shelves, you can always ask the butcher to ground some up for you. They may ask you to purchase a piece of lamb breast or other cut of meat, but then you will know it is fresh.
Lamb Burgers – Who Knew?
For the Cucumber-Mint Sauce
- ¼ cucumber
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves chopped
For the Burgers
- 4 4 inch pita breads
- 1½ cups shredded romaine lettuce
- 8 eggplant slices grilled
- Start with the sauce so it can sit for a while. Seed and finely chop the cucumber.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the cucumber, yogurt, 2 tablespoons fresh mint and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large mixing bowl, blend the lamb, cumin and the rest of the mint and again season with salt and pepper. Make four equally sized burgers.
- Trim the tops off the pita breads so the openings are large enough to fit a burger. If you like, you can toast the pita bread or warm them up on the grill.
- Cook the lamb burgers the same as you would a beef hamburger to the doneness you and your guests like.
- To serve, place a burger inside a pita bread, add a slice of grilled eggplant, top with a little of the cucumber/mint sauce and finish with a little shredded romaine lettuce.