I love lamb burgers. Our friends at Lava Lake have a very fine ground lamb that is perfect for these burgers.
This is an outstanding recipe that I serve along with homemade pita breads. If you’re thinking, “Is she insane? Why make pita bread by hand?”, I can assure you that it is far more tasty than store-bought and is surprisingly simple to make.
What is necessary is a pizza stone or a cast iron skillet. The result is a remarkably tender bun for your lamb burger. One unique thing about the final dish is that Greek yogurt is spread on to the pita bread and then sprinkled with the sumac onions. If tomatoes are ripe and juicy, add them as well .
With a dish like this you really don’t need much else but dessert. A word about sumac: it is one of my favorite spices as it has a beautiful color and slightly sour and tangy flavor.
The sumac on the left was bought off the shelf at a Mediterranean grocer. The other sumac I bought at The Savory Spice Shop. If you’ll notice the one on the right is darker and it is also a bit moister than the one on the left that lost it’s beautiful purplish color from over-exposure to light. I think the fresher sumac you can find the better when using it for the onions. If you are making Z’atar you can get away with the other.
Pita bread recipe – Adapted from Classical Turkish Cooking by Ayla Algar
Makes 6 to 8 depending on how big you like your burgers. These would also make excellent sliders!
For the sponge:
4 tsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup bread flour
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water and let stand for about 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. warm water
1 egg, lightly beaten
nigella seeds for the tops
Place the next batch of flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and then pour the sponge into the center along with the salt, olive oil and extra water. Bring the sticky mass together and then knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic. Place into an oiled bowl and cover with wrap and let rise in a warm spot for another hour.
At this point you can start making the lamb burger fixings by preparing the sumac onions. Try and slice the red onions as thinly as you can.
To shape your pitas: Remove the puffed mass and cut into equal little balls. Place them on a floured surface and cover with a towel for another 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 550 degrees. You want your pizza stone to get nice a piping hot.
Take one of the balls and slightly flatten with your hand until it forms a nice even circle. Place your 3 fingers at the top of a circle and then moving from left to right move across the circle making slight pounding movements. Go all across and back moving down to the bottom.
Flip the disk counter clockwise and do it again. You should have about a 6 to 8 inch circle. Brush with some of the beaten egg and sprinkle nigella seeds on top. Once you have 2 or 3 place them on to your pizza stone. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes. They will puff as they bake. Remove from the oven and keep warm in a towel until they are all baked and you are ready to eat.
Serves 4 to 6 depending on how big you like your burgers.
I used one of my favorite spice mixtures from Savory Spice called Limos Lamb Spice. You don’t have to use it but it makes them extra yummy.
2 red onions, thinly sliced then sprinkled with 2 Tbsp. sumac. Set aside.
2 lbs. ground lamb
4 scallions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup each freshly chopped parsley and mint
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. cayenne
2 Tbsp. Limos Lamb Spice (optional)
salt and pepper, two large pinches
tomatoes, if really tasty
Place the ground lamb in a large bowl and add the seasonings and mix together well. Form into patties and let rest in the refrigerator for a 1/2 an hour.
Grill the burgers on medium high for about 6 to 8 minutes a side.
Once cooked, cut your pitas in half, spread some Greek yogurt on one half, a piece of butter leaf lettuce. Place the lamb on top and then garnish with the sumac onions. Top with the other piece of pita and enjoy!
My husband added at little mint jelly to his burger too.