lamb burgers with tzatziki yogurt sauce

Technically, I wasn't brought up under any religion at all, but I consider myself Jewish by association. I went to a predominantly Jewish school for both high school and college, I've really only dated Jewish boys, and I just really get Seinfeld

As a result, I am totally oblivious to most major holidays except Passover, which I really only celebrate by stuffing my face with flourless chocolate cake. I literally and genuinely believed until an embarrassing age that Cadbury Eggs were rabbit food. Seriously, I thought the yolk in the middle was an actual raw egg yolk and that it was like those unnecessarily fanciful bistro meals for dogs, except for rabbits.  Only a handful of people in my life know that about me. 

I think the Easter spirit is getting to me in Boston, though, because I suddenly started craving lamb and Peeps. So when everyone headed home for their roasted leg of lamb and rabbit eggs, the Jewish boyfriend and I decided to celebrate it in our own way with one of our favorite meals: lamb burgers.

I start with the yogurt sauce because it gets better the longer it sits. It's as easy as grating a couple inches of cucumber and a garlic clove over a sieve into plain yogurt, squeezing some lemon juice, and mixing in some feta cheese.

Burgers are one of those things that I'm weirdly prudish about. I don't generally like my burgers to taste of anything but beef. A well-seasoned medium rare patty of ground chuck, a sharp slice of cheddar, one thin ring of raw onion, and no ketchup - that's the order I will always stick to.

But this lamb burger is something else. It sings through the verdant flavor of fresh herbs - mint and parsley - the mellow oniony notes of a finely diced shallot, and the slight hint of cumin and cinnamon.

It's only a matter of time before someone starts warning me about my health, but I'm going to talk about salt again. A liberal coating of salt on the outside of the patties will yield a lovely crunchy crust, with an important caveat: only salt your meat RIGHT BEFORE COOKING. 

There are people that blog only about the science of food, and they have proved time and time again that if you're not careful, salt can create some weird chemical reactions when it comes to meat. The folks at SeriousEats actually understand what they're talking about, so click the link above if for any reason you don't trust me.

Into a searing hot cast iron pan they go. If you've been with me so far on the salt, you should see this when you flip...

One of the things that separates a good burger from an extraordinarily awesome one is a toasted bun. Sure, you can toast them under a broiler with some olive oil or butter, but if you're hardcore, you press them into the cast iron pan to soak up the gamey fat that may have leaked out of your burgers.

Oy vey, is that a good-looking plate of Easter.

lamb burgers with tzatziki yogurt sauce
serves 2
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (if you don't have Greek on hand, strain normal yogurt in a sieve lined with a coffee filter or cheese cloth for an hour)
half a clove garlic
1/4 of a cucumber
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
juice of half a lemon

12 oz ground lamb
1 tablespoon shallot, finely diced
1/2 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1/2 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Sauce: Grate half a clove of garlic directly into the yogurt. Grate 1/4 of a cucumber over a sieve to catch the seeds and press the pulp to extract all the juice. Add in the feta and stir until thick and creamy. Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Feta can be very salty, so keep that in mind when you season.

Burger: Mix all ingredients together until just combined. Form patties and cover the surface of each with a coating of salt for that awesome crust. Heat a tablespoon of canola oil in a cast iron or grill pan on high heat until it ripples. Place burgers and don't touch them for 3-4 minutes. Flip them over, and cook for another 3 minutes for medium-rare. Put the burgers aside, and press whatever bun you're using in the pan to toast them and soak up that grease. Spare me your lectures, people - it tastes fantastic. Spread a pool of sauce on the bottom bun, top with burger, more sauce, and whatever topping you'd like (I used fresh spinach leaves). 


Anonymous said...

passover never looked so good!

Melly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melly said...


Planning on making it for the fam and pairing w/ an Argentine Malbec varietal...pretending I'm hanging in Patagonia!