So after finishing the last of those deliciously braised lamb shanks, I found myself with a good bit of leftover sherry blackberry sauce. To some, this would be a sad waste, but to me, this is yet another opportunity to try something new using leftovers. So in the ongoing love of all things lamb: lamb burgers!
The weather is warm here and it just screams for cooking outside. I had a craving for burgers, but I wanted to try something different from what I normally make. So to keep going with lamb and to not let any of that delicious sherry blackberry sauce go to waste, I picked up some ground lamb and decided to make a rich and tender burger. These are easy to prepare and some of the juiciest burgers I’ve ever had–you have the inherently flavorful lamb, the hearty, complex, darkness of the sauce, the uplifting flavor of mint, and the meaty, richness of kalmata olives all coming together for quite a burger. And seeing how I like to stuff cheese inside my burgers, it only seemed appropriate to stick to the lamb theme and use a sheep’s milk cheese, in this case, the renowned, semi-firm, earthy, tangy Spanish cheese: manchego. I’d originally intended to take this a step further by making some rosemary focaccia for a bun, but it just wasn’t in the cards this go around. 😉
- 2.5 lbs ground lamb
- 3/4 cup of lamb shank sherry-blackberry sauce
- 1 shallot
- 6 garlic cloves
- 12 kalmata olives
- few fresh sprigs oregano
- dried oregano
- fennel seeds
- black pepper
- 1/2-3/4 cup bread crumbs
- manchego cheese
Begin by making what I’ll call the “mash”–the mixture of sauce, veggies, herbs, etc. The first step is to dice the shallot and garlic finely, sautéing the shallot for about 3 minutes in a bit of hot olive oil, adding the garlic in for another minute or two after.
Remove this from heat and add to a large mixing bowl. In this bowl, add the dry spices, sherry-blackberry sauce, and pitted, diced olives.
Also, dice up some fresh oregano and mint leaves and mix this into the mash.
So with the mash mixed, time to get your hands dirty: mix in the lamb. Work it into the mash well until fully mixed. At this point, this mixture is clearly not thick enough to manage as a burger, so I put some stale baguette through the food processor (I can never get through an entire baguette quickly enough!) and mixed the bread crumbs into the lamb/mash mixture which makes the texture just right.
So now, divide the mixture into what you think is an appropriately sized patty–I usually aim for somewhere around 1/3 lb each–and set this aside.
If you’re planning on stuffing cheese into your burgers (and you should!), dice a good-sized chunk of manchego for each patty. It will definitely melt down better if you shred it, but I was in a rush and did just fine with chunks. Press this into each patty and work the meat over it to ensure it is fully enclosed in meat. Reshape your patties to look burger like.
If you have more burger patties ready than you expect to be able to eat, now is a good time to set some aside. I usually intentionally make way too many burgers, and then at this stage of the game, package a few raw patties in plastic bags and transfer to the freezer for a quick dinner another day. Plus, lamb freezes very well!
So with the burgers ready to go, get your grill nice and hot (around 450°–much less and the manchego won’t melt very well!) and grill the burgers for about 8 minutes total, flipping once halfway through. I also smoked a sprig or two of rosemary on the grill beside the burgers for a little extra and to assuage my guilt for not making the rosemary focaccia. 😉