Fusion Lamb Burgers
That’s right! LAMB burgers! As in baa, baa, baa. One of the nice things about making your own patties is you can use whatever ground meat you want and mix in whatever seasonings strike your fancy. My family likes lamb, so I often purchase ground lamb for our burgers. The end result is a lot more flavorful than regular old ground round. 80% lean lamb turns out quite juicy when cooked medium. My kids love these, especially since, when I’m planning these for dinner, I tend to walk around saying, “Baa-baa” whenever they ask me what we are eating. Sometimes I say, “Baa-baa-baaargers.”
The idea for this came from of a cooking show on the preparation of ground lamb kabobs. The seasoning in that case was heavily Middle Eastern, with onion, parsley, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne pepper, ginger, and black pepper. I decided to bring in some Asian spices to balance the flavors a little differently. I got that idea from a recipe for Thai coconut chicken soup. Go figure. Ideas can come from anywhere. I just happened to making the Thai chicken soup and the spices in that dish were on my mind at the same time as those lamb kabobs. It worked out.
What I came up with has a mix of both Asian and Middle Eastern spices and herbs. It might seem like a lot, or even a strange combo, but the mix compliments and enhances the flavor of the lamb well. The herbs and spices are incorporated directly into the ground lamb. It makes great sense to mix the seasonings in with the meat and let it all sit in the refrigerator for at least a couple hours. The flavors meld together and the end product tastes a lot better than if you mix in the spices and cook the meat right away. If you are frying the burgers (hey, sometimes the grill isn’t available and you don’t feel like using the broiler) one of the best tricks I’ve have learned is to steam the patties by adding a little (like 2 to 3 tablespoons) water to the hot pan, cover and turn the heat down to low. If you poach the meat after browning a little, it will not dry out and it will be easier to hit that juicy, medium doneness.
Makes about 6 patties
- 2 lbs ground lamb, 80% lean
- 2 Tbsp diced shallot
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 2 Tbsp lemon grass crushed and smashed and diced very fine OR a ready made paste
- 1 tsp cumin, ground
- 2 Tbsp fresh Thai basil (or mint or both), chopped fine OR 3-4 drops mint extract
- 2 Tbsp ginger chopped fine
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- Fresh red chili pepper paste to taste
- Salt and Black pepper to taste
- Fixings: burger buns, red onion slices, cilantro, cheddar cheese slices, lettuce (preferably Butter or Bibb), your favorite condiments
Toss all the seasonings and spices together and fold into the ground lamb by hand. Be sure not to over mix to the point where you have a uniform paste. No machines or heavy kitchen implements, as these will over process the ground meat. You want the mixture to stay somewhat crumbly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8. This will give the flavors a chance to meld. The lamb burgers will taste much better for this extra time alone with the seasonings.
Form the ground lamb mixture into 5oz to 6oz patties. (A scale helps, but if you don’t have one then divide your ~2lbs of seasoned, ground lamb into 6 roughly equal sized patties) Separate the patties with foil or wax paper. Refrigerate till ready to cook.
Grill, broil, or pan fry patties to medium doneness (about 160deg F). If cooking over medium heat, it takes about 4 min per side. If you are pan frying, try frying for two minutes on each side and then pour in a couple tablespoons of water, cover the pan, and steam on low heat till the water is evaporated; then uncover, flip, and cook another minute or two.
You can put cheese on the patties during the last minute of cooking.
Build the burgers with the fixings and condiments of your choice and enjoy.