This dish came about when we were looking for a Greek “hamburger” with the flavors of Cypriot cuisine.–Michael Psilakis
LC Pretend You're A Fancy Pants Chef Note
Chef Psilakis, renowned in Manhattan circles for his riff on traditional Greek cuisine, reminds us in his seminal book How to Roast a Lamb that sometimes big flavor comes from little things. Like taking a few extra minutes to toast and grind your own coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds rather than relying on the stale, pulverized powders found in those dusty little jars on your supermarket shelf. Just toast a pinch of each seed, one spice at a time, in a small, dry skillet over medium-ish heat until fragrant. Cool and grind to a powder in a spice grinder. The flavor will be far more complex, says Psilakis. So will your sense of satisfaction, says us.
Lamb Burger Recipe
Hands-On Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 45 minutes | Makes 2 burgers
- 2 1/4-inch-thick slices Spanish or sweet onion, plus more for garnish
- Oil as needed (Psilakis uses a blend of 90 percent canola & 10 percent extra-virgin olive, but you can suit yourself)
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 7 ounces ground lamb
- 3 ounces ground pork
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
- 1 scallion, green part only, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
- About 2 ounces pork caul fat or lightly smoked (preferably uncured) bacon (optional)
- 2 buns or rolls of your choice, brushed with olive oil and lightly toasted
- Lemon wedges, for squeezing
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 1. Heat a grill pan or a large, 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the onion slices with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until tender. Separate 2 of the onion slices into rings and finely chop them.
- 2. Combine the chopped grilled onion, lamb, pork, mustard, coriander, parsley, dill, scallion, cumin, and fennel in a bowl with your hands. Season the meat mixture liberally with salt and pepper and mix. Divide the mixture in half and shape each into a patty. (Psilakis uses a mold or one of those little plastic deli or takeout tubs to shape each burger just so. The uniformity in shape and size isn’t about pretense or fairness, it’s about ensuring the burgers cook uniformly and reliably.)
- 3. If using the caul fat or the bacon, wrap some around each burger, pressing to form thick, flattened disks. Wrap the overhanging fat or bacon up and over the top, overlapping it a little but trimming off the extra bits and pieces and smoothing it so the surface is flat. Place the burgers on a piece of parchment. Use immediately or cover with another piece of parchment and refrigerate for up to a couple of hours.
- 4. Preheat a charcoal or gas grill, ridged cast-iron grill pan, or cast-iron skillet until hot. Brush the burgers lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the side of the burger covered with the caul fat down first and grill, turning once, until marked with chargrill stripes and done to your desired doneness. Plop the burgers on the buns, squeeze a little lemon over the tops, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.
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Lamb Burger Recipe © 2009 Michael Psilakis. Photo © 2009 Christopher Hirsheimer. All rights reserved.