Healthy Eating: Make lamb leaner for better burger
Beef may claim to be what's for dinner in America, but in the Middle East, that honor often goes to lamb. It's prepared in innumerable ways, but my favorite is when the lamb is ground, spiced and grilled, then topped with some kind of yogurt sauce and finally tucked into a pita. And that's how we're rolling here.
The only problem with ground lamb is that the kind available at the supermarket often is quite fatty. Generally speaking, of course, fat is where the flavor is — and the moisture. But lamb fat is saturated fat, and it's best to keep our intake of saturated fats down. Happily, lamb is packed with flavor, which means that even the leaner cuts deliver big lamb taste. What about the missing juiciness? We've replaced it with vegetables.
The surest way to source lean ground lamb is to grind it yourself or put it in the hands of a pro. Not all markets boast an in-house butcher these days, but if yours does, choose a leaner cut of lamb — a part of the leg, for example — and have the store grind it for you. Of course, if you own a meat grinder, or a stand mixer with a meat-grinding attachment, buy the leaner cut, bring it home and grind away.
If neither of those options is open to you, you can “grind” your lamb using a food processor. I put grind in quotes, because when you do it with a processor, it's more like chopping or shredding than grinding. Anyway, here's how it works: cut the meat into 1-inch cubes and freeze them for 30 minutes. Freezing the meat helps it to “grind” more evenly and prevents the processor from overheating the lamb in the process. Put the meat in the processor in batches and pulse until it gets to the desired consistency. But be careful not to overdo it. You don't want to turn the lamb into mush.
This burger remains juicy thanks to some onions and zucchini. We caramelize the onions to optimize their flavor, and grate, salt and drain the zucchini. I used to think zucchini were boring until I discovered this trick. The burger is seasoned with garlic, oregano and lemon, though you're welcome to swap out the oregano for basil, dill, mint or rosemary. Lamb pairs nicely with all of them.
And if you're not a fan of lamb, this recipe also is dandy made with beef. You can grind your own beef using the methods for lamb described above. Whichever, please don't skip the garlic-yogurt sauce. It's the perfect topping to a grilled burger on a summer day.
Chef Sara Moulton writes this column for the Associated Press.
Grilled Middle Eastern Lamb Burgers With Garlic Sauce
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1 medium zucchini (10 to 12 ounces)
1 1⁄2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 1⁄2 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground lamb
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
Olive oil cooking spray
4 pita bread halves
Grated carrots and chopped cucumbers, to serve
Use a food processor or box grater to coarsely grate the zucchini. Transfer the grated zucchini to a strainer. Toss the zucchini with 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt, and let it drain over the sink for 15 minutes. When it is done draining, working with a small handful at a time, squeeze the zucchini to get rid of as much liquid as possible.
While the zucchini is draining, in a large nonstick or stick-resistant skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the squeezed zucchini and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
Heat a grill to medium.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine the yogurt, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the garlic, 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
When the zucchini mixture has cooled, add the lamb, oregano, the remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, the remaining 1 teaspoon of garlic, and 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon of pepper. Mix well, then shape into 4 patties, each about 1⁄2 inch thick. Spray the burgers lightly with olive oil cooking spray, then grill until medium-rare, for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Serve each burger in a pita half, topped with the garlic sauce, carrots and cucumber.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 500 calories (250 calories from fat), 28 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 110 milligrams cholesterol, 35 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams dietary fiber, 640 milligrams sodium
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Letang leaves hospital, ‘day-to-day’ with concussion
- NFL coaches weigh in on Polamalu’s legacy
- Building damaged, no injuries after Fayette recycling center fire
- Starkey: Next frontier for Steelers offense
- Shortfalls sabotage promise of union retirees’ pensions
- Pirates pitchers finding success with expanded strike zone
- South Side house part of former Steeler’s end game
- Mt. Lebanon native, Iraq war hero’s action goes unrewarded
- Alvarez latest in Pirates’ revolving door at first base
- Downie’s goal, fight spark Penguins to win over Coyotes
- From sticks to pucks, Mt. Pleasant collector wields power of the Pens