Smoky Lamb Burgers with Mint-Chile Pickled Cucumbers Recipe

Staff Writer
Smoky Lamb Burgers with Mint-Chile Pickled Cucumbers Recipe
Smoky Lamb Burgers with Mint-Chile Pickled Cucumbers
Aliya LeeKong

Smoky Lamb Burgers with Mint-Chile Pickled Cucumbers

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.

4
Servings
1047
Calories Per Serving
Deliver Ingredients

Notes

*Note: I use my spice grinder to grind the whole pods of black cardamom, and then I pass it through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of the coarse bits.

Ingredients

For the mint-chile pickled cucumbers

  • 3/4 cups rice vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Thai green chiles, halved
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 2 mini seedless cucumbers, sliced thinly
  • Handful of mint, torn roughly

For the lamb burgers

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped finely
  • 4 -5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground black cardamom*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne, or to taste
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pimentón de la Vera (smoked paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • Vegetable oil, for coating the grill
  • 4 buns, toasted

Directions

For the mint-chile pickled cucumbers

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, and sugar until dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat. (I like to put the cucumbers in a wider, shallow container to increase the surface area as they are pickling.) Let sit at least 1 hour before serving, but they can also be refrigerated and will keep for a few days.

For the lamb burgers

In a medium-sized skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Swirl the pan as the foam subsides and continue to heat until butter starts to brown. Don’t let it burn! Immediately, throw in the shallots, garlic, and spices and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously to prevent sticking, until the shallots are translucent and cooked through. Remove and let cool briefly.

Place the lamb in a bowl and make a well in the center. Add the cooled shallot and spice mixture and mix thoroughly. Do not overmix or the meat will get tough. Form the mixture into 4 equal patties, keeping the center a bit thinner than the edges. You can also make this mixture up to 1 day ahead of time and the flavors will come together even more beautifully.

Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat and coat with a thin layer of oil or grill on the outdoor grill. Cook for about 4 minutes per side to get to a medium-rare and longer for more well cooked burgers. Serve the burgers on a toasted bun topped with the pickled cucumbers and a few of the pickled shallots.

Lamb Shopping Tip

Look for meat that is bright red. Red meat turns paler as the hemoglobin within releases oxygen – a sign that the meat has been sitting too long at the butcher's counter.

Lamb Cooking Tip

When browning meat, resist the urge to move the meat – you must allow a flavorful crust to form over high heat. Once it has formed, the meat should slide freely with the shake of a pan.

Lamb Wine Pairing

Most red wines, especially cabernet sauvignon, but also including cabernet franc, mourvèdre, Rhône blends, zinfandel, petite sirah, nebbiolo, nero d'avola, primitivo, barbera, and sangiovese.

Nutritional Facts

Total Fat
79g
100%
Sugar
10g
N/A
Saturated Fat
35g
100%
Cholesterol
211mg
70%
Protein
45g
89%
Carbs
38g
13%
Vitamin A
222µg
25%
Vitamin B12
5µg
89%
Vitamin B6
0.7mg
34%
Vitamin C
63mg
100%
Vitamin D
0.5µg
0.1%
Vitamin E
3mg
16%
Vitamin K
25µg
31%
Calcium
174mg
17%
Fiber
4g
18%
Folate (food)
81µg
N/A
Folate equivalent (total)
142µg
35%
Folic acid
36µg
N/A
Iron
7mg
38%
Magnesium
91mg
23%
Monounsaturated
31g
N/A
Niacin (B3)
16mg
81%
Phosphorus
475mg
68%
Polyunsaturated
7g
N/A
Potassium
961mg
27%
Riboflavin (B2)
0.7mg
38.8%
Sodium
1073mg
45%
Sugars, added
1g
N/A
Thiamin (B1)
0.6mg
40.1%
Trans
0.7g
N/A
Zinc
9mg
58%