Friday, May 27, 2005
Memorial Day weekend is finally here! Summer is beginning. When I was young this meant we could begin wearing white shoes (although for many in my home town of Louisville, Derby Day was the signal for that).
We had red poppies in church on Sunday, as we remembered the real reason for the holiday: to commemorate those who had given their lives in war to protect our country and what we believe in.
And it was the start of the picnic and cook-out season for my family. Mostly, cookouts for us meant hamburgers or chicken on the grill. Now, however, there isn't much I won't cook on a grill.
Recently I was invited to a friend's house to cook out. After some thought, we decided to do something a little different: lamb-burgers. We thought a Greek twist would be tasty. With the same flavors one might use to marinate lamb kebabs, we made oval patties. The lamb we had was extremely lean, so we brushed them with a little olive oil so they wouldn't stick to the grill. We used pita flatbreads instead of a bun, and offered assorted accompaniments to heap on top. A blob of tzatziki sauce made a great finish.
As a side dish, I cut carrots in half lengthwise and then into good sized chunks on the diagonal. I tossed them with a little olive oil on a baking sheet and dusted them lightly with equal amounts of ground cardamom, ground coriander seed and kosher salt. About 20 minutes in a 350o oven was all it took for a cooked but still firm texture.
Now, I know there are lots of folks who think they don't like lamb. I don't understand it but I know it's true. So if you are one of those folks, do this with lean ground beef and you're still going to love it! Invite your friends for the first cookout of the season, grill some lamb-burgers and enjoy the lovely weather...before it gets too hot!
2 lb lean ground lamb
1 bunch green onion, finely chopped
2 or 3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 large pita breads
Mix all ingredients except olive oil and pitas together. Form 8 oblong patties. Brush them with olive oil and cook over hot coals until they reach the desired doneness. I like them just barely medium. Put on a platter and tent with foil to keep warm. Brush the pitas lightly with a little more olive oil and warm them on the grill. Wrap the burgers in the pita and add shredded lettuce, diced tomato, slivered onion and the tzatziki sauce. You can also do these in your oven broiler, or on top of the stove on a ridged griddle or in a skillet. Serves 8.
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
juice of one lemon
1 or two cloves garlic, pressed or VERY finely minced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
1 tsp salt, or to taste
Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour for flavors to mellow. Best used within a few hours. You may substitute fresh or dried dill for the mint if you prefer the flavor, or don't have fresh mint.