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Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Burgers

Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Burgers
Throughout North Africa and the Middle East, highly seasoned ground lamb is popular for grilling. Many traditions call for molding the lamb mixture onto metal skewers in an elongated sausage shape. The lamb is grilled and then the sausage is slipped off the skewer in a single piece and served with traditional garnishes of pita breads, seasoned chopped tomatoes and onions, and citrus wedges. Here, the lamb is formed into oval burger shapes, grilled and then inserted into pita pockets for a terrific, informal supper.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. ground lean lamb
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 whole-wheat pita breads
  • 1 cup whole-milk or low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 cup alfalfa sprouts

Directions:

In a bowl, combine the lamb, onion, bread crumbs, mint, garlic, cumin, coriander, the 3/4 tsp. salt and the cayenne. Using your hands, mix gently but thoroughly. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions and form each into an oval patty about 4 1/2 inches long and about 3/4 inch thick.

In a small bowl, stir together the tomato and cilantro and season with salt. Let the patties and the tomato mixture stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours. If refrigerated, remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before grilling.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over high heat.

Grill the burgers over the hottest part of a charcoal fire or directly over the heat elements of a gas grill, turning once, until nicely charred and cooked to your liking, 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium. About 1 minute before the burgers are done, place the pita breads along the edges of a charcoal grill where the heat is less intense, or on an area of a gas grill with lower heat, so they can warm.

To assemble the sandwiches, coat the pockets of the pita breads lightly with some of the yogurt, then slip a lamb burger into each bread. Add the tomato mixture, sprouts and the remaining yogurt, or serve these condiments on the side. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Grilling, by Denis Kelly, Melanie Barnard, Barbara Grunes & Michael McLaughlin (Oxmoor House, 2003).