The Dish | Greek Lamb Burgers

If you like Greek food (or burgers!) try these flavorful lamb burgers topped with feta, red onions, shredded lettuce, tomatoes and/or tzatziki sauce. Known as Biftekia, Greek burgers are typically made of a flavor-packed mixture of ground meat, aromatics, spices, and fresh herbs. Serve with pita or hamburger buns or on a salad. Add chunky potato wedges sprinkled with paprika and olive oil or orzo with lemon and parsley — and dinner is ready!

BURGER INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 slice bread (whatever you have), crust removed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots, from 1-2 shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp finely chopped fresh mint (or dill — but I prefer mint)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground lamb (not lean), or a combo of lamb and beef
  • 6 pita bread rounds or hamburger buns
  • Suggested toppings:
    • Lettuce or arugula, shredded
    • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
    • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
    • 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
    • Tzatziki sauce (recipe below or buy at Trader Joe’s)

BURGER DIRECTIONS:

  • Combine bread pieces and milk in a medium bowl. Mash with a fork until paste forms.
  • Add shallots, garlic, mint, oregano, salt, pepper and mix well.
  • Add lamb, then use your hand to mix ingredients together until well combined.
  • DO NOT OVER-MIX!
  • Form mixture into 6 oval-shaped patties about ½-inch thick.
  • Cook patties on the grill, covered, for 4 minutes. Turn, cover again, and cook for about 3 minutes more.
  • Place burgers on a tray and cover with foil while you warm pita rounds on the grill.
  • Assemble burgers and pass toppings and Tzatziki sauce alongside. (Alternatively, you can cook in the oven at 350′ for 15 to 20 minutes).
  • These can be made a day ahead or frozen for up to 3 months.

TZATZIKI INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pint plain whole milk or 2% Greek yogurt (I use Fage)
  • 1 English or hothouse cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
  • 1 Tbs plus ½ t kosher salt
  • ½ cup sour cream (or increase the yogurt)
  • 1 Tbs white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp fresh mint or dill
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

TZATZIKI DIRECTIONS:

  • Grate the cucumber and toss it with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt; place it in a colander, and set it over another bowl to release some water. Place bowl in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours to drain.
  • Add yogurt to a large bowl.
  • Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can and add the cucumber to the yogurt.
  • Mix in the sour cream (or additional yogurt), vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
  • Serve chilled or at room temperature.
  • Makes around 2 cups.

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