I live in lamb country. We even have sheep festival in the fall with a lamb dine around. So if someone can tell me why I have not tried to make lamb burgers before, I will send you a prize. Really. Conveniently, I’ve seen several recipes for lamb burgers recently and after my first foray into this type of deliciousness, I plan to try the other recipes as well.
Now for those of you who think you don’t like lamb, I’m going to guess that the only lamb you have tried was served with mint jelly and was somewhat grey. Am I right? Or maybe you’ve only had lamb in a gyro at a street fair? I am definitely in favor of street fair lamb over mint jelly lamb. Either way, it’s time to branch out. Cooking lamb at home is not difficult and it can be very tasty.
This is the perfect recipe to try if you are new to lamb. Great flavor and simple preparation. First, you need to get yourself over to Bon Appétit to look at their photo of this dish. I’m still working on how to photograph things that are flat. It’s harder than it looks. Tips totally appreciated here. But if you can get over my photos, and believe what I’m telling you, you’ll be so happy you gave this a try.
Word of warning (or perhaps a hint of blessing, depending on your perspective), the lamb mixture needs to sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before cooking. This means if you are late home for dinner, cook something else. It also means that if you are the kind of person who has their ducks in a row, you can mix up the meat and other assorted goodies (parsley, cumin, ground coriander, cinnamon, salt, pepper, onion) in the morning, stick it in the fridge, and come home to a very low-maintenance meal to finish preparing. And you know without me even telling you that I reduced the amount of onion in this recipe. I’m silly that way. I actually slightly less than halved the entire recipe. I used one pound of ground lamb (instead of 2 ½) and just about half of all of the spices.
This burger recipe is unique in that it calls for grilling the meat inside of the bun. Wait, what? Exactly. In this case, the meat is grilled inside of a pita. I could not for the life of me find fresh, thick, pita with a pocket as directed, so we simply cut our pita in half and sandwiched the meat between the two halves. I thought the whole thing would fall apart the minute we tried to flip it on the grill, but it didn’t. Lamb is apparently remarkably sticky. Or maybe pita is sticky, I don’t know.
What I do know is that you should definitely lower your grill temperature. These burgers do cook fast because they are so thin (I had slightly less than a quarter pound of meat mixture smashed between each set of pita halves), but they may not cook fast enough to keep your pita from burning. I unfortunately do not have any photos of our charred first attempt because we were too busy trying to fix it so that we could eat. Take my word for it. Our first pitas were black. We salvaged half of each pita, peeling off the burnt section and replacing it with fresh, grilled pita as we served.
That said, why bother grilling in the pita at all? Because it actually tastes really good. I’m not sure what the pita does to the meat (or maybe the meat does to the pita) but the whole thing is delicious cooked together. Want to make it a little bit better? Maybe add a little crumbled feta in with your meat mixture before you shape your patties. I could see how that might bring this dish just over the top. Either way, though, give this one a try. And please feel free to come join us this fall at the Lamb Dine Around. Its good times and good food. You will never eat mint jelly again.