In part, this entry is to make amends for all the time I've spent away from this blog lately, training for my new job; but I mostly wrote this because spring is on its way, and as the weather starts to warm up, I dream of the grill, which makes me think of burgers. Since spring is still in its early phase I wanted to incorporate that symbol of early spring, lamb, but do it in a playful way. I remembered a long ago menu for a bbq I had thrown for my friends to celebrate early spring in New York City--in particular the greek style lamb sliders with yogurt herb dressing that everyone gobbled as fast as I could grill them up. In my effort to make amends I'm also including a recipe for oven fries with thyme, which not only pair well with the sliders, but are also incredibly easy to make. I used roasted garlic in the lamb burgers, to add moisture and sweetness, and it was really worth the extra effort to make it. I just preheated the oven to 400, peeled away the papery outer layers of skin around a small head of garlic and cut the tips off of the cloves, exposing the garlic, brushed it with olive oil and put it in a muffin tin, covering the top with tin foil in the oven for about 35 minutes.
We've been having a spate of unusually cold weather for the season, so I had to forgo grilling and pan fry these instead. If you also have to pan fry, the upside of it is that the drippings, when poured over the fries, make for an absolutely delectable treat.
Thyme Oven Fries
2 lbs. medium yukon gold potatoes, cut into wedges
3 sprigs of thyme
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (this stuff is really spicy!)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Parboil potatoes for 3 to 5 minutes, until they are just starting to be tender.
3. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of your roasting pan and put in potatoes; toss to coat. Strip the thyme leaves off of the woody stems into the pan. Add cayenne, salt and pepper and toss to coat.
4. Roast in oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until they can easily be pierced with a fork.
Optional: Add drippings from the lamb burgers after they've all been cooked up and toss to coat.
5. Serve with greek style lamb burgers.
Greek Style Lamb Burgers with Yogurt Herb Dressing
For the Dressing:
8 ounces plain greek yogurt
1/2 bunch oregano
4 sprigs thyme
zest of 1/4 lemon
(optional) 1 teaspoon honey - only use if the dressing is distractingly bitter when you taste it
For the sliders:
2 lbs ground lamb
1 cup steamed petite green peas
6 cloves roasted garlic, smashed into a paste with 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinamon
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Juice of 1 whole lemon
1. Make the dressing: put oregano and thyme leaves (strip them off of the woody stems) into the food processor on low for a few seconds. Mix herbs into yogurt, along with lemon zest. Mix well and taste. Add honey, if needed. Remember, the burgers will be a bit on the sweet side, so you may want the yogurt to provide contrast to that.
2. Mix all slider ingredients together well, then form ten small patties, about 3 ounces each. Add olive oil to hot skillet and place as many sliders into the pan as possible. Cook the sliders on medium heat without flipping them for 4 minutes, covered with tinfoil. Flip and cook covered for another 3 minutes, or until they're no longer pink in the center. Repeat until you have cooked all the patties.
3. Serve patties on a toasted mini bun or dinner roll with a dollop of yogurt dressing and a big, crunchy slice of cucumber. Fries on the side.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback.