Themed burgers can be dangerous. Use too many gimmicks, make things too complicated, and you run the risk of being all concept. It's one of the things I most admire about Chef Scott Smith at RUB BBQ in New York, who does a different themed burger every week. Scott's burgers are always playful and within the idea he's doing, but they always work.I keep this in mind anytime I try something overly complicated or themed — making sure that the dish works not just within the theme but on the palate. So it was with this Greek-themed lamb burger with tzatziki. Technically pita probably would have been the component to finish this theme, but it's hard to find fantastic pita, and pita with a burger... well, kinda doesn't feel like a burger anymore — feels like a gimmick.So with this Greek-themed lamb burger, the flavors are there, with a couple themed touches, but when it comes down to it, it's still a burger. A spicy, tangy, salty, juicy, wet burger. You won't be disappointed.
Lamb is more expensive than other types of ground meat but take one bite of these juicy burgers and you’ll see why. We don’t add much to the ground meat — just some onion, garlic, and spices — so that the flavor of the lamb can shine. Skip the cheese on these burgers and opt for a flavorful yogurt-based sauce instead.
The recipe for these smoky lamb burgers came out of wanting to create a kicked-up burger that was no-fuss and would taste delicious with an ice-cold beer...
I have two secret ingredients in this burger that give it that smoky, peppery edge. The first is black cardamom. The flavor is a bit lighter than green cardamom — earthier and with a woodsy smokiness. Black cardamom is used throughout North and East African cooking, in South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, and even in Sichuan cooking.
But, don’t worry if you only have the green kind. It works beautifully here as well because there is still the second secret ingredient: pimentón de la Vera. If you’ve never used it before, this dish is a great intro — it’s smoked paprika and is a key ingredient in Spanish cooking. Both of these spices meld together here and bring out what’s best about lamb.
Now, I’m a burger-with-pickles kind of gal, so I had to do a super quick pickle (ready in an hour!) to go with these. Thinly sliced cucumbers get quick-pickled with Thai green chiles, some fresh mint, garlic, and thinly sliced shallots. The shallots pickle, too, so I use both along with some fresh chopped mint and a nice piece of butter lettuce to top this burger.
These burgers are not for the faint of heart — they are big and bold! Feel free to turn this recipe into sliders or more modestly sized patties if you so desire. Enjoy!
Click here to see 7 Must-Have Spices.
Take a trip to the Mediterranean with this Greek-inspired lamb burger. A combination of dried parsley, oregano, and dill lends pleasant herbal flavors to the lamb patties, and a well-dressed salad with feta tops the patty.See all burger recipes.Click here to see Chefs' Favorite Burger Recipes.