Thursday, April 28, 2011

(Best Ever) Lamb Burger with Pickled Red Onions, Marinated Lacinato Kale, and Tzatziki Sauce. Plus: Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Lemon Sauce

I originally bought ground lamb for Easter dinner, thinking a whole leg of lamb just might be over the top for two people. But I wanted to grill the lamb, and it was raining, so I held off for a sunny day. And then I held off again, because it kept raining. And then I thought, didn't I leave Seattle? And then it was still raining and I decided to just broil the burgers. While I am sure grilling them would also have been delicious, broiling led to evenly cooked, tender, perfect burgers. And they became even better with all the condiments I made for them.

(The only thing that could have been better was the bun--I have yet to find a store bought hamburger bun that tastes like anything. Should have made my own.)

And, because I object to the general American consensus that a leaf of lettuce and a slice of tomato on a burger constitute a full serving of vegetables, I served this burger with roasted cauliflower with tahini lemon sauce and parsley.

Because the toasted cumin seeds in olive oil go in the sauce and the lamb, it makes sense to start with the sauce, then form the burgers, make the pickled onions, and marinate the kale.

Tzatziki Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 an English cucumber
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
about 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves and dill--determine the quantity of each based on your tastes
2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a small pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Toss in the cumin seeds, and toast for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Slice the cucumber thinly, and toss with the salt in a strainer over the sink. This draws some of the liquid from the cucumber. After 15 minutes, press some liquid out of the cucumber, and toss it in a food processor with the garlic. Pulse until the cucumber is pureed. Add the yogurt, cayenne, mint, dill, lemon juice, and about half of the cumin seeds and olive oil. Pulse until the herbs are chopped well and everything is combined. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and let the flavors meld for at least 30 minutes. (This can be made up to a few days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.)

Lamb Burgers (makes 2 burgers)
5 cloves garlic, crushed in a garlic press or finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons mint, finely chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dry bread crumbs
1/2 a beaten egg (helps prevent the burger from falling apart)
2/3 pound ground lamb

In the same small pan as before, reheat the rest of the olive oil and cumin seeds. Add the garlic, and saute until it looses it no longer smells raw, but is not browned. Remove from heat. Toss in the salt, pepper, mint, parsley, and bread crumbs. Let this cool for a minute or two. Using your hands, combine the lamb and the egg with the garlic and herb mixture until everything is evenly mixed. Form into two even patties, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you are ready to cook them. (You still don't need to wash the pan--you will be using it in the next step)

Pickled Red Onions
1/2 red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small thai pepper, finely chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Thinly slice the onion from the root to the tip, and separate the slices. In the same pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, thai pepper, and garlic and saute until the onion has softened. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir around until it boils off. Remove from the heat, add the white wine vinegar, mint, sugar, and salt. Let the onion sit in the vinegar for at least 1/2 an hour and up to 2 hours before straining off the liquid.

Marinated Lacinato Kale
1 long lacinato kale leaf
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Remove the stem from the kale leaf, and tear the leaf into 3 inch segments. In a small bowl, toss the kale with the lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. Allow to rest for at least 45 minutes, tossing occasionally, to soften the kale.

Assembling the Burgers
marinated kale leaves
tzatziki sauce
pickled onions
uncooked lamb burgers
1 tomato, thinly sliced
2 hamburger buns

Preheat your broiler with a rack set close to the top. Place the burgers on a rack over a baking sheet. If you like, arrange the condiments on a platter.

When the broiler is hot, broil the burgers for about 4 minutes on each side, or until the feel firm and cooked. Transfer them to a plate, and place the buns on the rack to toast under the broiler. They should be done in one minute--watch them carefully so they don't burn.

Spread some tzatziki on the cut sides of the buns, place the burgers in the bun, and layer with kale, pickled onions, and sliced tomatoes. Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Lemon Sauce
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water
cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a baking sheet, toss together the cauliflower, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes, turning occasionally, until the cauliflower has crisp brown tips.

While the cauliflower is baking, use a blender to combine the tahini, lemon juice, water, cayenne, and garlic. Blend until smooth, and transfer to a bowl.

When the cauliflower is done, toss with the parsley and the sauce, and serve.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome recipe! When I first saw the title I thought it must have been from a restaurant because it's so creative!

    Thanks for commenting on my blog, I love meeting other St. Louis bloggers (I'm new to the area!) I will be following your blog from now on!