Lamb Burgers for the Dubious
I am not the biggest fan of lamb, so when I found out that it was one of the few proteins that benefits my body, I was reluctant to add it to my diet (couldn't I eat just pinto beans as my source of protein instead?). And to be honest, the first time I cooked it for a meal on my diet I was not the most satisfied family member at the table.
See, the first (and last) time my dad and I tried cooking lamb was when my mom and sister went on their grand Oxford adventure two years ago and left the two of us to fend for ourselves for a week. We decided to grill some lamb and pair it with a glass of red wine for a bougie meal on the back patio. I don't remember the exact details very well, but let's leave it at we ended up going out for dinner.
In complete honesty, I was dreading rotisserizing (what even is the correct verb for to rotisserie?) the leg of lamb my mom and I picked up on our grocery run, and perhaps my mental state jaded the true taste of the meat. Regardless, though I thought I was being so clever for marinading the shank in almond oil, mint sprigs, parsley, and grapefruit, it really wasn't all that great...most likely just because I don't appreciate the gamey taste. My mom couldn't stop raving about it, but she's the one that loves liver paté...uhhh ew.
For those of you who might share in my aversion to lamb, find comfort in what I am about to tell you: it can taste good!
I know, I know, had I told myself that after my epic fail in 2013, I would never have believed myself. Rest assured that, after a stroke of genius (applause, please), I have tamed the lamb!
Okay, so here's how it goes. While perusing the meat counter at Whole Foods for lamb stew meat, my mom and I were faced with the choice between ground lamb and lamb shank. I wanted to avoid another unfortunate encounter with lamb shank, so we decided to get a pound-and-a-half of the ground meat, make lamb burgers for dinner, and cross our fingers it would be a greater outcome than previously experienced.
When it came time to start dinner, I took command of handling the meat...quite literally. (Note: just don't think about the texture, and it should be manageable.) I split the bundle of ground lamb into four equal balls and split each one into equal halves; thus, making eight smaller balls. From there, I flattened each ball into a fairly large and thin patty and loaded one up with delicious stuffing items: caramelized onion, parsley, salt, and ghee (clarified butter, which was intended to give a little extra moisture to the meat once cooked). The second patty was placed on top and the extra edges were smushed together to make a whole patty.
When it came time for me to make my two patties, I started considering what other flavors would go well with the lamb. For some reason, apple sounded really good at the moment, so I decided to add a dollop of apple sauce to my stuffing. I had originally wanted to place thinly sliced apple in the stuffing, but figured it would not cook in the time the patties were on the grill. Plus, apple sauce would add a little extra flavor and moisture. (In the meantime, we had been preparing some sliced potatoes and onions marinated in ghee and almond oil on the grill.)
When the patties were finished, we placed them on a bed of lettuce and dished up a hefty serving of the homemade sauerkraut I'd made with my mom (blog post to come!) and potatoes. Nervous, I resorted to eating the sides first, but the moment I bit into my lamb burger, I was hooked. The caramelized onion gave it an extra richness and the apple sauce...impeccable! Knowing myself, I'll probably be loading my lamb burgers with enough apple sauce for a week. And garlic once I can reintroduce it to my system. In the meantime, I've been daydreaming about all the delicious combinations to try in my lamb burgers - lightly sautéed apples, mint, cherry, havarti cheese, garlic, garlic, garlic.
If you are just as wary of lamb as I was, I would recommend this recipe. It not only reduces the gamey taste, but gives it a pop! of extra, rich taste. If you have differing tastes, try it with your favorite flavor enhancers (some ideas: cumin, green chile, chile or chipotle powder, cheese, and cilantro to name a few). This can be an opportunity to experiment in your laboratory kitchen! What will you try? I'd love to hear all about your creativity - feel free to comment with your unique ideas to spicing up a plain ol' lamb burger. Happy eating!
- 1 & 1/2 lbs ground lamb meat
- caramelized onion
- ghee (oil, butter, or margarine - whatever suits your taste)
- apple sauce per patty
- sea salt
- preheat the grill
- split the meat into 4 equal balls, and divide each in half, to yield 8 halves
- press each smaller ball into a large, thin patty
- load on your toppings, as desired
- grill for approx. 15 minutes, or until at your preferred degree of doneness
- serve on a bed of lettuce (protein style) or toasted buns/bread
- add your favorite sides
- bon appétit!
Until next time!