Growing up, I watched a lot of cooking shows. It started with Yan Can Cook. It was followed by The French Chef, Barefoot Contessa, Tyler Florence, and the multitude of celebrity chefs on Food Network. One recipe that has stuck with me for years is from Tyler’s Ultimate by Tyler Florence. It’s Moroccan Brick Chicken with Apricot Couscous. I’ve made it for years by request of family and friends. The dish’s flavors are mildly spicy, using a mix of cinnamon, coriander, pepper, and cumin. The exotic mix is cut with refreshing mint and citrus. In a word: delicious.
After years of making this recipe, I thought to myself, why not try this flavor profile with lamb? I made a fabulous variation using lamb and the same spice mixture in a slow cooker. It was delicious. But I’m not feeling the slow cooker these days. It’s just too hot to think about stews, or soups, or anything really hearty.
No, I wanted a tasty burger. A juicy, spicy, minty burger to fire up on my grill.
Was it delicious? Yes. Yes it was. So delicious I kept on making noises of delight as I ate it. Not words. Noises. I washed it down nicely with a refreshing glass of lemon, cucumber & mint water (aka “spa water”). Yum!
Warning: this recipe does require a lot of prep. While this recipe can be a pain in the ass to make, you can prep a lot of stuff the day before (i.e. the Moroccan spice paste and the cilantro mint yogurt sauce). You can spice the burger meat and make the patties the day before. And you can clean and dry your herbs the day before, too. That way, the day of, you’re ready to throw those burgers on the grill and get to it.
Now, go get all of this delicious goodness in your mouth. Go!
Moroccan Spiced Lamb Burgers
Makes two 8 oz patties or four 4 oz patties.
The burger patty:
- 1lb ground lamb (85% lean, 15% fat)
- 2-3 tbsp thinly sliced scallions
- 1 tbsp Moroccan spice paste (below)
- salt and pepper to taste
Using your hands, mix up the ingredients until evenly distributed. Using a food scale (or your eyeballs), divide the mixture into two or four portions. Make patties wide enough to fit properly in the buns, keeping in mind that as they cook, they’ll shrink toward the center.
Slather the outside of the patties with the spice paste. You can do this the night before, or a couple of hours before you’re ready to cook them. Like any marinade or rub, it gets better the longer you keep it on the meat before cooking.
Cook the patties on the grill until they’re to your liking. I happen to prefer my lamb medium. I cooked these until they reached an internal temperature of 145F.
Moroccan Spice Paste:
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons ground coriander
- 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (or another flavorless oil with a high smoke point)
- zest of 1 lime
- 1 lime, juiced
Combine all of the above ingredients in a small bowl, forming a paste. Set aside until ready to use. Remember you’re going to use 1 tbsp of this stuff to spice the lamb meat, and the rest will be used to marinade the outsides of the burger patties.
Cilantro Mint Yogurt Sauce
- 1/2 c. plain yogurt
- juice of 2 limes
- 1 c. cilantro leaves, loosely packed
- 1 c. mint leaves, loosely packed
- 1 green onion, chopped (green and white part, but not the bulb)
- 2 tbsp. honey
- salt and pepper to taste
Wash and roughly dry your herbs. In a blender, mix all of the ingredients until smooth. Set aside in a container in the fridge until ready to use.
- chopped cilantro
- chopped mint
- chopped green onions
- sliced cucumber
- quick pickled red onions
- 2-4 burger buns, toasted on the grill to your liking
- feta cheese
- cilantro mint yogurt dressing (above)
The thing about your burger fixings is that you don’t need to measure everything out carefully. Just eyeball the amount of each of the above things that you want to use to dress up your burger. But as a guideline, I used a couple of large handfuls of the herbs, 1/2 cucumber, several green onions, and an 8 oz container of feta cheese.
Grab your buns. Slather each half with the cilantro mint dressing. On the bottom bun, arrange a bed of cilantro, mint, and green onions. Carefully place your burger patty on top of the greens. Top the burger patty with the feta cheese. Then top that with the quick pickled onions. Drizzle on some more of that sauce! On the top bun, arrange your cucumber slices, then carefully flip the top bun on top of the burger. Then devour!