Saturday, July 21, 2012

All-American Lamb-burger

Grilled Lamb Burgers with Roasted Veggies and Flat Bread
My love of juicy, flavorful lamb is no big secret. It might just be the Russian in me or it might be the fact that lamb is freakin' delicious. It's a magical sort of meat . . . and by "magical" I mean "fatty." Where do you think all the flavor comes from? I was looking for a little twist on the basic burger for some evening grilling and came up with this mouth-watering entree. It's an entire meal, complete with a hearty helping of veggies, on a piece of flat bread. Serve some honey-drizzled berries for dessert and you've got a perfectly delicious Mediterranean-inspired barbecue for four! Please note- this recipe makes a HUGE amount of roasted veggies. You'll have plenty to spare for another use.

- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 4 pieces of flat bread (warm in oven before serving)
- 3 tsp. ground cumin, divided
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh mint
- 2 Tbsp. minced Italian parsley
- 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, divided
- 1 shallot, finely grated
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced 
- 1 eggplant, trimmed and cut into 2-3" pieces
- 3 green onions, trimmed and sliced crosswise into 3" pieces
- 1 red pepper, seeded, trimmed, and sliced into 2" pieces
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- Tzatziki sauce, prepared hummus, and crumbed feta for serving

Roasted veggies are one of my absolute favorite flavor-boosters. They are so easy to prepare and incredibly versatile.

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and spritz lightly with cooking spray. Arrange sliced veggies on the sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper, oregano, and 1 tsp. ground cumin. Drizzle with olive oil and 2 Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar. Roast in oven for about 30-40 minutes. Check occasionally and mix up with a pair of tongs to make sure they are not sticking. When they are soft and brown, remove from oven and set aside to cool. These can be make a day or two ahead. They keep up in the fridge just fine. When you are ready to serve, remove from fridge and allow to come to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl combine ground lamb with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, remaining cumin, pepper flakes, paprika, grated shallot, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and minced mint and parsley. Work mean gently with your fingers to make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Meanwhile, heat grill. Prepare ground lamb mixture into four equal-sized patties. They should be round with a small indentation in the center. (This handy little trick keeps the burgers from puffing up in the center when they cook.)

Grill burgers on a hot grill to your desired doneness. I usually like mine with pink in the middle, so it's about 3-4 minutes per side depending how hot the grill is. Never smash down burgers with a spatula while cooking, this just presses all those wonderful juices out and makes for a drier, less flavorful burger.

To assemble burgers, top a warmed piece of flat bread with a spoonful of hummus, then some roasted veggies, and then the cooked lamb burger. Top with tzatziki sauce and crumbled feta. These are definitely "knife and fork" burgers and are great served with a crisp and simple tomato and cucumber salad. Happy grilling!

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