Thursday, June 10, 2010

Introducing My All-American Lamb Moussaka Burger!

Can "ewe" believe I did a lamb post title with no baaaaaaaaaad puns? Hey, I was afraid of getting lambasted! Okay, I'm done (he said, sheepishly).

I was recently contacted by the American Lamb Board, who are promoting their third annual “Get Your Grill On” video competition, to see if I would be interested in trying some lamb.

Never one to turn down free meat, I said sure! When the package arrived I was very happy to see I was the proud owner of one pound of all-natural, all-American, ground lamb.

Deciding what to make was easy. I love lamb burgers, and I've been daydreaming recently about a lamb burger based on the famous Greek casserole, Moussaka. For those of you that don't know, Moussaka is a stunning blend of spiced ground lamb, tomato, and eggplant, topped with a creamy, cheesy white sauce.

I decided to integrate the eggplant right into the burger itself, instead of topping the burger with cooked slices. I really liked the result, but I think most of you will enjoy it better if you use less eggplant than I did.
I started with about 3-4 cups of raw diced eggplant, and while the burgers held together nicely, the texture was very soft. I think 2 cups is probably just about perfect. As always, I encourage skepticism and experimentation.

sauce seemed like a natural to use as a cheesy spread on the toasted buns, and I loved how the minted tomatoes pulled everything together. By the way, I don't always feel the need to put greens on a burger, and here it seemed like it would just get in the way. Besides, there's no lettuce in Moussaka. I really hope you give these great lamb burgers a try. Enjoy!

For more information on finding and using American Lamb, as well as learning more about the “Get Your Grill On” contest, check out the official website here. Thanks for the delicious meat!

For the lamb burgers:
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced fine
2 cups diced eggplant (remove skin first)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground lamb

For the sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
salt to taste

4 soft hamburger rolls, toasted
tomato slices
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon thinly sliced or chopped mint leaves


Razors Edge said...

Looks nice ! Thank you!

rosemary said...


Anniespickns said...

Oh my. I thought I was the only one in the world who loved lamb burgers. I usually eat them with sauteed onion but since I'm crazy about eggplant too I think I'll just have to give this a try.

Jesse from Detroit said...

What an interesting way to spruce up a lifeless tomato! I had no idea that could be done...

bryan-in-greece said...

Those burgers look really great, Chef John! BTW, in Greece moussaka is called moussakas (μουσακάς, pronounced moussakAAS, heavily stressed on the last syllable), while around the world it is called moussaka (pronounced moussAAka, stressed on the second syllable). It is often thought to be Greece's national dish as it is a big favourite with tourists, but not so! Greeks see white bean soup (fasolada/faσολάδα) as their national dish, usually eaten in winter.

Lincoln said...

Hey Chef John, will this work with other meats like pork or beef too? And I always have a problem with my burgers falling apart on the grill before they're done, any tips on that?

Chef John said...

thanks for the info Bryan!

Lincoln, I don't want to go John Wilkes Booth on your idea, but these flavors are more for lamb than beef and pork (ha! a little assassination humor). Also, if your burgers fall apart on the grill, use a pan!

Ivan said...

Is the Stella pictured at the end a recommended beer pairing or incidental?

Michelangela said...

CHEF JOHN! This looks wonderful and this recipe really made my day!!!

I have never seen ground lamb in a store here in Italy , so I think I will have to go to a Halal butcher's shop to purchase it.

I can't wait to try it. YUM!!!

Again Thanks a lot from Michelangela, Milano

Chef John said...

Stella is always recommended! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Haha Take THAT Cat Cora!!

Lincoln said...

I totally did not think about the cinnamon and cumin clashing with the flavours of the beef. While I've tasted it done well in certain Indian beef curries, I don't think they'd go as well on a pan fried meat, good point there chef!

I am using a pan! That's what sucks! I have a feeling I'm getting impatient and flipping them too soon before they get a good sear at the bottom and then little chunks just fall off. Patient is not one of my better virtues.

Victoria said...

This looks delicious. Unfortunately I'm not sure where I can get ground lamb around here but this recipe makes me want to look for it!! :-)

KrisD said...

mmm, I bet these little lamby darlings would be good in an arepa!

Maxine Pelligra said...

Oh my, these look INCREDIBLE :)

Katy's Eats said...

Good Idea !

diane and todd said...

fabulous video John, you're such an amazing talent! You always leave everyone inspired and hungry!

Chef John said...

Thanks so much for the wonderful compliment!

Clararar said...

I just made this for dinner and it turned out awesome! Added a dash of chilli powder with the other seasonings which I highly recommend, and also really piled on the cheese sauce which tied it all together... Thanks heaps again for a great recipe!

Gigi said...

Hi Chef,
I made this tonight. I think I either used too much eggplant, or the pieces were too big. In a bit of a rush. Anyway, it was taking forever for them to cook so I broke them up and we had sloppy moussaka joes on the roll with the Parmesan spread. Oh my god. It was absolutely delicious. Big lamb fans here. Would you believe we even had one tomato left from our garden? (SF Bay Area) and we used it on the sloppy joes. Heaven. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Great recipe! I was afraid the lamb would be too overpowering so I added more eggplant mixture than lamb. It was kind of a loose burger but very tender. I also added small cubed potatoes to the eggplant mixture which I thought worked out to be a great addition. It came out delicious and everyone loved it!!

Anonymous said...

Look forward to ro, trying this recipe. Your idea gave me an inspiration: What about a gyro burger? All the elements of a gy ro, only in burger form. Tell me what you think.

Anoop said...

I was thinking about putting this in a loaf pan, baking it and slicing it for sandwich meat. Would it work? Thanks in advance.

Anoop said...

I was thinking about putting this in a loaf pan, baking it and slicing it for sandwich meat. Would it work? Thanks in advance.

Chef John said...

May be too soft to slice!

Unknown said...

This burger was just amazing.
Except I had to substitute the lamb to beef, cuz my favorite local butcher went on holiday.

I introduced some few tweaks such as making ricotta cheese sauce using my left over pasta or using hummus for more healthy option I also added char grilled Romano pepper for Mediterranean touch lol.

Such a versatile recipe and I love it.

Unknown said...

Hey chef it is my first comment here should it get posted if course but sure is not my first recipe of yours to try. I enjoyed quite many ones already. With a little bit of change cause I just can't help it not to follow a recipe to the litter.
The difference with this one was I felt scared as u was cooking that it won't taste or cook well. And I must say that only believing in your recipe made me go thro with the cooking and it came just perfect. Next time I will cook the eggplants a bit longer tho. But the spice mix is just awesome and it really work. I must say I added a bit if crushed chili flakes for a bit of a kick.
Thank you chef. And by the way mousakka is not at all Greek or even Turkish they actually took after the Arabs so it's kinda my heritage and you treated with respect so thank you.

Betsy said...

Great Burger! Made these tonight and, as usual, excellent recipe- full of flavor- great blend of spices! Used fresh mint from my herb garden, compliments of Chef John's herb planting post, and served on a brioche bun. Truly one of THE BEST burgers I've ever had, truly! This is a great addition to my list of recipes and this will be a regular in my kitchen. I've made quite a few of Chef John's recipes now and I'm really starting to rely on them more and more each week because they're always so good. Thanks, Chef John!

Chef John said...

Thank you!

sjr said...

I was hunting around for a different recipe to use with a pound of lamb and found this one. I NEVER post in the comments section but these were certainly worthy of a comment. I did stick some red pepper flakes in but other than that followed the recipe - a GREAT burger!! Thanks John!