I was in college the first time I ate lamb. I can’t pinpoint the precise meal. My girlfriend’s family ate lamb frequently, so it could have been leg of lamb for a holiday meal. Lamb chops for a big Sunday dinner. Or ground lamb patties for a quick weeknight dinner. Whatever the case, I was immediately hooked.
It wasn’t that I’d resisted trying lamb – it had just never appeared in our pork/beef/chicken-eating household as I was growing up. What I discovered was a rich, mild, slightly sweet taste, lighter than beef. The holiday leg of lamb was an absolute luxury, studded with slivers of garlic and covered with rosemary, roasted until just medium rare inside. But the simple lamb patties, seasoned only with salt and maybe some lemon pepper, delivered that essential lamb goodness too.
If anything, Marion is an even bigger fan of lamb. You’ll find it in regular rotation in one form or another in our kitchen, and there are at least two dozen lamb recipes in the Blue Kitchen archives. Lately, we’ve been having lamb patties almost weekly, cooked in a grill pan with nothing more than salt and pepper and served without a bun. A side salad and maybe some mashed potatoes and we’re set.
The other night, looking to change things up, I decided to add a few extras to the lamb patties and serve them as burgers. Here’s what I did.
Lamb burgers with lemon zest and Dijon mustard
Makes 3 burgers
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1 generous tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 pound ground lamb
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 burger buns (we used pretzel buns)
1. Combine the parsley, garlic, lemon zest in a small bowl. Add the Dijon mustard and stir with a fork to mix everything together. In a large bowl mix the ground lamb and the parsley mixture together until just combined. You need to strike that fine balance of getting the parsley mixture distributed evenly without overworking the meat.
2. Form three burger patties with the lamb mixture and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Before cooking the burgers, make an indentation in the centers with your thumb; this will keep the burgers from plumping up too much as they cook (I do this with beef burgers too).
3. Heat a grill pan or large skillet over medium-high flame. (If it’s grilling season where you are, you can absolutely grill these.) Toast the buns, if you like. You can use the toaster or your grill pan. Brush the heated grill with some oil and grill the buns cut sides down, pressing down slightly on them to make sure they make contact with the pan. A minute or two should do it.
4. Cook the burgers. Make sure the pan is plenty hot and brush it with some more oil, if needed. Cook the burgers for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, then an additional 3 minutes on the second side for medium-rare. A quick-read thermometer should read about 125ºF when inserted in the center of the burger. Transfer burgers to buns and serve immediately.
5. These burgers had a nice lemony brightness, thanks to the lemon zest. You can serve extra Dijon mustard to amp up that flavor, if you like. If you’re a mayo lover, that works too.
Related post on Blue Kitchen: Lamb Chops with Dijon Mustard and Thyme