Grilling Out – Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce

Labor Day is upon us, but with a weather forecast that still includes 100 degree days, grilling is far from done for Southern Ash.  After our extended burn ban, the remnants of Hurricane Isaac dumped a few inches of rain here meaning I can fire up the grill again.

Lamb Burgers on a Ciabatta Roll with grilled eggplant.

Prepare the Patties

Step 1: Start with one pound of lamb. I enjoy the gamey taste of lamb, but it can be tricky to cook because of how lean it is.

Step 2: Add ¼ of a pound of ground pork to provide some additional fat and binding for the burger and mix. I told my butcher that I was using it to mix with the lamb, so I got a pretty fatty quarter pound.

Step 2A: If you don’t want to use pork, substitute my Turkey Burger method – a handful of breadcrumbs  & olive oil to provide the additional fat to keep the patty moist.

Step 3: Gently divide your ground meat into portions.  Here, I made quarter pound patties, so I measure out a total of 5 four ounce patties.

Step 4: Without squishing too much, mold the portioned meat into a rough patty shape.  Make a slight indention in the middle of the patty.  As the burger cooks, it will shrink and the indention will prevent the middle from bulging.

Step 5: Season the exterior of the patty while you fire the grill.

Grilling the Patties

Step 1: Making a two zone fire as described in the previous Grilling Out Post. Once the grill is hot and cleaned, it is time to cook the burgers!

Step 2: This is going to be a simple process of cooking on the direct heat side of the grill. Instead of just flipping once, I’ll flip three times.  I don’t have the patience to flip every twenty to thirty seconds as certain burger meisters recommend.

 Step 2A: Set a timer for 2 minutes, at MOST over the direct heat hot grill. Place the seasoned burgers down.

Step 2B: In two minutes, flip the burgers over.

Step 2C: In two more minutes, flip and rotate

Step 2D: In two more minutes, flip the burgers.

Step 2E: Now add a slice of cheese if you decide to use cheese.  I like the slight saltiness of provolone as well as its more mellow flavor to let the lamb stay center stage.

Step 3: Remove from heat & let sit for five minutes before serving.

Buns

I used a cut down ciabatta loaf for these burgers.  I brushed a little bit of olive oil on them and set them on the indirect heat side of the grill while I was cooking the burgers.

These will finish a few minutes before the burgers.  When you remove them to the serving platter, spread a little tzatziki sauce on the buns.

Tzatziki Sauce

This is a classic mediterranean sauce that is often served with gyros.  Since we are making lamb burgers, I thought tzatziki would make a good sauce.

Step 1: Grate a peeled and seeded cucumber to taste. I use about ½ a medium sized cucumber per ¾ to 1 cup of yogurt.

Step 2: Add 2/3 cup of fat free plain yogurt or greek yogurt in a bowl.

Step 3: Add one clove of minced garlic mashed to a paste with a pinch of kosher salt.

Step 4: Add the juice of a ½ a lemon

Step 5: Add chopped mint and a dill to taste. I used a good handful of mint because I like that flavor. Mix.

Step 6: Refrigerate until use.

I cooked some thinly sliced eggplant, soaked for one hour to reduce the bitterness, lightly coated in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Toasted ciabatta bun lamb burgers topped with provolone and tzatziki sauce with a side of grilled eggplant.

When I went to find a link to a nice story about why not to salt your burgers before making the patties, I found that Serious Eats, in their excellent A Hamburger Today series, covered lamb burgers 2 months ago.