Saturday, September 14, 2013

Balsamic Lamb Burgers with Macerated Mint Leaves

I have a friend who while usually quite outgoing, has one interesting reservation regarding food.  She refuses to eat ‘Easter animals’.  This includes bunnies, ducks and of course lamb.  I always found this amusing and sad, there are some amazing gourmet dishes to be had from each.

Rather than make this a soapbox for non-vegetarians, lets instead focus on one of the more overlooked sources for a great burger – ground lamb.  Economical and with great flavor, it surprises me that this is not featured more.  And the natural parings with lamb are numerous, from rosemary, to chèvre, to mint and more.  This two part recipe features a sweet/tart pairing.  It is slightly sweet but in the best savory way, with deep layered flavors.  The burger will be quite juicy, and the slight bite of the softened mint refreshes the experience.

Please don’t let the word ‘macerate’ scare you away.  It simply means to soften using a liquid.  In this case, we are using the lemon/vinegar/soy mixture to soften the mint.  The mint soaks in the liquid and becomes quite limp.

for the mint maceration

for the burgers

Combine the lemon juice, pear vinegar, soy and sugar in a small bowl.  Stir to dissolve sugar.  Crush the red pepper flakes with your fingers and add.   Remove the leaves from the mint stems and add to the liquid.  There will appear to be more leaves than liquid, but have faith, the acid will break down the mint leaves and soften them.  Set this aside for at least an hour.

In a large mixing bowl add the ground lamb.  Add remaining ingredients (except buns!) and gently mix into the meat.  As with any burger, do not over mix as this will dry out and toughen the meat.  Shape into six patties, place on plate and cover with plastic wrap.   Set aside in the refrigerator for at least an hour to meld flavors.

Grill the burgers on medium high heat, two minutes per side, flipping three times.  Toast buns.  Place burger on bun and top with a generous portion of the macerated mint leaves.

Makes 6 burgers.