Lamb Burger


Recently I re-read the cookbook, “How to Roast a Lamb, by Michael Psilakis. I read it originally when I first bought it, in 2009, according to Amazon.

My modus operandi is to read a new cookbook, then put on the shelf. When I have more time, I re-read it, with my little sticky notes on hand to mark recipes, even if 8 years have passed. I might own too many cookbooks when I can “lose” a cookbook that easily.

What I hadn’t remembered about “How to Roast a Lamb,” is that it is one of the best written cookbooks ever, in my humble opinion. Not the recipes; they’re kind of a mess.

Michael Psilakis is Greek-American, who although born in the United States, didn’t speak English until entering first grade. Just like the family in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” his was large and sometimes loud, but there was love, and there was food.

In the introduction, Michael tells the fascinating story of how his rise to chef and restaurant owner began, with fateful events allowing major opportunities in his life.

In spite of some rebellious years during his teens, Michael always made it home for dinner.

“It was clear to me that missing one night of family dinner would not make my mother angry, but, far worse, it would wound her in a way that would cause her pain in the depths of her soul. To miss one of those dinners would signify to her that whoever else I was doing was more important than she was, more important than my family, and more important than her singular wish to keep us together.”

Michael Psilakis’s stories that precede each chapter beautifully describe the love and respect he had for his family growing up, and his mother’s passion for food and cooking that he inherited.

Lamb Burger
Bifteki Arniou
Makes 2 burgers (I doubled the recipe)

2 – 1/4″ thick slices sweet onion
Olive oil
Salt, pepper
7 ounces ground lamb
3 ounces ground pork
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill (I omitted dill)
1 scallion, green part only, finely chopped (I used chives)
1 tablespoon garlic purée (I used 1/2 roasted head of garlic)
About 2 ounces pork caul fat
2 slices onion, grilled, to top the burgers
2 kaiser rolls

Brush the onion slices with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. On a hot grill pan, grill until tender. Separate the onion into rings and chop fine.

In a bowl, combine the chopped grilled onion, lamb, pork, mustard, coriander, parsley, dill, scallion, and garlic purée.

Season liberally with salt and pepper. With clean hands, combine the mixture evenly and divide in half. (I made four burgers.)

Place a 4-5″ ring mold on a clean work surface. Lay a piece of caul fat over the top with a few inches overhanging all around. Place half the lamb mixture in the center and press down to form a thick, flattened disk.

I simply did the same thing without using a ring mold.

Wrap the overhanging caul fat up and over the top, overlapping a bit but trimming off extra bits and pieces. Smooth the caul fat so that it is flat to the surface. Repeat to make the second burger, and place them on a piece of parchment. (Remember I made four burgers!)

Preheat a cast-iron skillet until hot. Brush the burgers lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the side with the caul fat down first, grill, and turn over untl firm and char-marked on both sides, to your desired doneness.

My burgers were cooked to medium-rare, although you can’t tell from this photo, but of course they can be cooked longer.

And being an American, I had ketchup on hand.

Don’t roll your eyes, I actually ate the burger with only a little Dijon mustard. It was way too good to smother with ketchup of course!

These lamb burgers were really incredible. I can’t imagine them tasting any more delicious. The roasted garlic addition was probably not too far off of the chef’s garlic purée, which is a purée of garlic confit.

There was one mistake, where cumin and fennel are supposed to be included in the lamb mixture, I’m assuming, because they were listed in the ingredient list, but omitted in the directions.

If you’re wondering how I got my hands on pork fat caul, it is because of a website I’d recently discovered, called Heritage Foods USA. It’s also where I got my ground lamb; my local store’s situation with lamb is hit-and-miss, but mostly miss.

It is a unique experience working with the lacy caul. It looks so delicate but don’t let its dainty looks fool you!

54 thoughts on “Lamb Burger

  1. I especially love my cookbooks which provide stories and background to an authors’ personal life, heritage and the cuisine they grew up with just like you mention. I don’t read novels I read cookbooks! The burgers sound delicious as I do love lamb – glad you provided info on pork caul fat as I was just about ready to google the info :)

    • You are so welcome. I got beef tenderloin, the middle piece, from Heritage Farms, and although much more expensive than the site I use normally, it seemed even more tender, according to my husband.

  2. Mimi, I rarely eat lamb but my brother in Germany raises lamb and I am going to see him over Thanksgiving. Maybe there is a lamb burger for dinner, who knows! I like the quote from the book.

  3. I am so glad you mentioned where you got your caul fat! I have not been able to get any in Tucson at all! What would we do without mail order? Your pictures look perfect, Mimi. I like that he adds a little bit of pork to the ground lamb – do you think it makes a difference?

    • All I know is that the recipe was complete perfection. Maybe the pork was to add some more fat? If I made them again I’d do it the same way. And yes, especially since I’ve mostly lived in dumb little towns, food mail order/websites are a true blessing.

    • Hmmm, I thought crepinettes were a specific shape, but, you obviously know!!! That term probably isn’t used in a Greek cookbook, but I appreciate your telling me. The burger recipe was perfection.

  4. I have only used caul fat once and that was in Paris at the LCB school when we made stuffed cabbage. The fat was used mainly to hold the layers of meat and cabbage together as they cooked. I tried to find it again, but no luck, but then again, it’s not high on my preferred list of ingredients! Lamb is very abundant in Australia but is not so easy to get in US supermarkets. Nice recipe, Mimi- I could go for a bite of that lamb burger right now!

    • The recipe was perfect, actually. when I make these again, I will follow exactly what I did. I can occasionally find lamb in my local grocery store, but it’s easier to know it’s coming to me in a box than go to the store and not find it!

  5. Sounds delicious Mimi. Lamb is very popular here, this burger is perfect for the summer BBQ. I have some lamb mince in the fridge right now, thanks for inspiring tonight’s dinner

  6. This burger sounds amazing! I love the combination of lamb and pork together. I also love the way you go through your recipe books with sticky notes! I do the same thing. I have a couple that I’m just waiting to dig into. It’s like a play date for me.

  7. This book sounds intriguing – I’m fascinated by Greek cooking. And I’m the same way with cookbooks, only I mark the recipes before I put the book on the shelf and then forget about it. It’s always fun (and amusing!) to see which recipes caught my eye years ago! These burgers look fantastic. I’ll definitely check out Heritage Foods. My butcher has a fairly good selection, but there are a few things (rabbit) that I can’t ever seem to find.

    • The meat was high quality, but expensive, which isn’t surprising. But I like their concept. I typically buy wholesale from Marx Foods, and get beef tenderloins shipped directly from New Zealand, but wholesale is tough when it’s just my husband and I any more!

    • Well I’ve only seen it associated with terrines. As I cooked the burgers the caul sort of melted, but still helped hold everything in shape. Am I to assume you don’t like lamb? No, you just made lamb ravioli. The recipe was just wonderful. I made a lamb burger yesterday and just used salt and pepper. It was good, too, but when I have more time I’ll make this recipe again.

  8. Love lamb! And my local store is a bit of a mess with it too, alas (although there’s a nearby butcher who is good). Lamb burgers are wonderful, aren’t they? Have you ever read _The Supper of the Lamb_ by Robert F. Capon? More a philosophy of cooking than an actual cookbook, but I bet you’d like it. Anyway, super post — thanks.

  9. Oh my! First of all I love lamb in all forms, shapes and sizes. Roast lamb with mint sauce being my favorite. But wow, look at all those flavors in your lamb burger. I can only dream about it. It’s odd, I don’t see ground lamb in some of the groceries stores around here, I usually go to a butcher’s shop to get the ground lamb.

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