Thursday, July 18, 2013

lamb burger.

It's mid-July ... prime burgers-on-the-grill season. But even the American classic--a beef paddy on a bun with ketchup and mustard--can taste a little monotonous by mid-summer. So when I found a recipe for a lamb burger in the June issue of Real Simple, we decided to try one of their "burger reinventions." Whoa, was it good. Then the second time we took a look at the recipe, we did it even better: We went to Union Market, bought our ground lamb local, and added a few extra spices to the mix. Jon and I like a little heat, after all. Here, my friends, are the results ...
^^Know your market? Check. Buy some cheeky dinnerware for your at-home barbecue? Double-check. I couldn't resist!^^
 ^^Fresh-ground lamb from Border Spring Farms in Patrick, Va. Not bad.^^
For the fennel slaw:
- 1 small bulb fennel, thinly sliced
- 1 T fresh lemon juice
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper, to taste

Directions: Toss all ingredients together in a small bowl. Boom, that's it. This slaw was delicious. The citrus added a tangy twist to the licorice-like undertones of the fennel. I would even serve it as a side dish to grilled lamb or pork tenderloin. Just sayin'.
For the burgers:
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 T curry powder
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 2 buns
- 2 leaves of Boston Bibb lettuce 

Directions: Heat grill to medium-high. Mix spices together in a small bowl. Add spice mix to ground lamb, and form into burger paddies. Press down the center of each paddy with your fingertips to make a quarter-size divot (this will prevent the burgers from puffing up like tennis balls on the grill). Salt and pepper each paddy, to taste. Grill burgers until an instant-read thermometer reads 140 degrees F.
Jon formed the paddies in the kitchen, while I went outside to arrange the sunflowers that Cecile picked out from the market. Bogie--our poor, hot pup--watched from the shade.
As a side to this dish, we grilled Brussels sprouts, simply prepared: dress with olive oil, salt and pepper, and the remaining juice from the lemon you squeezed into the fennel slaw. I also tossed in the rest of a red onion we happened to have. We threw the sprouts/onions on the grill in a wire grill pan the same time the burgers went on, and they cooked perfectly. 
 ^^Not real ants! Just very yummy buns on a silly plate :)^^

I probably don't have to tell you buns can make or break a burger. The ones I used are "honey IPA rolls" from Northside Social in Clarendon, and they are so delicious ... and dairy-free, if you're going that route. We keep a dozen or so in our freezer for burger or panini nights. For our lamb burgers, I sliced them in two, lightly olive oiled their center, and toasted them on the grill for half a minute or so.
Bun, burger, Bibb, slaw--ta-da! Throw your grilled Brussels sprouts onto your plate and enjoy. We didn't dress our burgers with anything, as we found the burgers were already well-seasoned and fennel slaw added enough of a tangy crunch to every bite. The original Real Simple recipe adds a tahini-mayo-lemon juice topping to the mix, but we didn't miss it. We chose instead to use those extra calories on a cold draft pilsner ... or two ;) ;) It was an awesome dinner, folks.