LAMB SLIDERS WITH HARISSA, GARLIC, LEMON & MINT YOGURT SAUCE

We spent last Christmas in Key Biscayne, Florida and obsessed over the menu at Dune, the beachfront burger lounge at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. A particular favorite was the lamb burger with roasted red peppers, Manchego cheese and grilled onion roll bun. When we returned to Boston, I decided to come up with my own lamb burger recipe. With little trial and error, I found a crowd-pleasing, juicy "lamburguesa". The Greek inspired sauce makes a healthy, perfect dipping sauce for sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, or a colorful crudité platter.

Nota bene: The yogurt sauce may be made up to one day in advance. When making burger patties of any kind, indent the center just a bit to prevent the burger from shrinking up during cooking. Refrain from smashing the meat together when shaping the burgers to preserve their texture. Harissa sauce can be found at most Whole Foods Markets or other specialty shop. 

Ingredients

SLIDERS

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed

  • 21/4 pounds ground lamb

  • 2 hot Italian sausage links, casings removed

  • 1/2 cup onion, minced

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes

  • 2 garlic cloves minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 3 teaspoons paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt &

  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

  • Light olive oil

  • 12 slider rolls

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • Harissa sauce

  • 1 cup baby arugula, or arugula microgreens

  • slices of roasted red pepper, optional
     

SAUCE

  • 1 cup of thick Greek yogurt, drain the liquid if necessary

  • 1/2 large lemon, zested and juiced

  • 1 garlic clove, minced or grated

  • 20 medium sized mint leaves, finely julienned

  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

1. Over medium heat, toast the coriander and fennel seeds until fragrant. Transfer the toasted seeds to a spice grinder and finely grind.

2. In a large bowl, gently mix the lamb, sausage, onion, butter, garlic, cinnamon, paprika, and cayenne pepper with the coriander and fennel seed mixture. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Try not to smash the meat or pack it too tightly. The slider texture will be better if it is carefully mixed without compressing and compacting the meat excessively.

3. Divide the meat into 3 ounce portions (this will make about 12 sliders) and gently form into patties. The meat will shrink so make the patty slightly bigger than the bun.

4. Heat a large, cast iron skillet over high heat for 3 minutes and then coat the bottom if it with olive oil. Add burgers immediately, as you do not want the olive oil to smoke.

5. Cook burgers until a nice brown crust appears, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes until desired doneness and remove from heat.

6. Meanwhile, brush the inside of each slider roll with butter and toast in another large skillet over medium-high heat. Be careful not to burn these as they will cook in 30 seconds. If you cook on medium-high heat a nice golden crust will appear on the bun.

7. When bread is nicely toasted, remove from heat and spread the top half of the slider with the harissa. Go very sparingly with the harissa as it is spicy. You can always add more.

8. To make the sauce, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. 

9. Spread the yogurt sauce on the bottom half of the roll and add the slider patty. Top the burger with a few leaves of arugula, the roasted red pepper slices if desired, and the other half of the roll. 

10. Serve immediately and pass remaining yogurt sauce.

Serves 6-8