Lamb meat is not usually used to make burgers, explains author Barton Seaver of Where There’s Smoke, because the fat in the meat is not a favorable flavor or mouthfeel, making it difficult to create a juicy patty. He resolves this issue by substituting some of the fat taken out of the meat with olive oil, and pairs his lamb burgers with other like-minded Mediterranean ingredients such as preserved lemons for flavor and ground pistachios for texture and aroma.
Reprinted with permission from Where There’s Smoke © 2013 by Barton Seaver, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Katie Stoops
Place all of the ingredients into a medium bowl and, working quickly but deliberately, mix by hand or with a fork until they are thoroughly combined. The danger here is mixing too aggressively. If you heat up the mixture too much or too fast, then it turns into a paste which, when cooked, will have the texture of a hot dog. By mixing with care, you retain the texture of the lamb and end up with a hamburger-like mouthfeel. Chill the mixture for at least 20 minutes.
Evenly divide the mixture into 4 portions and shape them into balls. Gently flatten them so they look like sad meatballs and set them just adjacent to the coals of a medium fire flavored with applewood or oak. Cover the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the heat of the fire. Flip the patties and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the patties to the coolest part of the grill and cook 2 minutes longer, or until they are about medium doneness, then serve immediately.