Posts Tagged oregano
Just what it says – lamb hamburgers.
My fellas aren’t super picky eaters, but they are particular about certain things. Lamb is a meat that they wouldn’t outright complain about, but it was obvious to me it wasn’t a favorite either. I understood completely; it took me years to get a taste for the flavor of lamb, and even I will turn my nose up when faced with a particularly gamy lamb dish. Lamb has what I would describe as a slightly acrid, even metallic flavor, and depending on the cut and the preparation it can be pretty sharp tasting. Lamb is a favorite in many cultures, though, and I knew I could make it work for my boys.
These lamburgers (I know, I’m so clever) are generously flavored with garlic and herbs, served on delicious kimmelweck rolls, and dressed with my favorite goat cheese spread. You’re not masking the flavor of the lamb, but complementing it.
(The fries were Wegmans brand, bought frozen and heated up in the oven. Nothing fancy.)
Here’s your shopping list:
- Approx. 1/3 lb ground lamb per person
- 1/2 medium bulb of garlic (for 3 burgers, scale up as necessary)
- Fresh herbs: rosemary, parsley, oregano, and mint.
- Cracked black pepper (about 1 tsp went into mine)
- Coarse salt
- Approx. 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 oz chèvre (soft goat cheese)
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Kaiser rolls or hamburger buns (I used kimmelweck rolls, which have coarse salt and caraway seeds on them)
I gathered most of the herbs from my garden (I had to buy the mint – my mint plants are still dormant) and I didn’t measure the amounts, so here’s a pre-cut picture to show you the relative quantities:
Remove any stems from the mint and strip the rosemary off the twig. Mince everything. If you would like everything to blend completely into the meat, I recommend pulsing them in the food processor until you get a paste. I wanted big noticeable pieces of garlic and herbs, so I cut mine by hand and wasn’t too particular about size.
Mix the garlic, herbs, and black pepper into the meat thoroughly. I used my hands – I’ve tried numerous tools for this, and gloved hands simply work best.
Divide the meat into however many 1/3-lb sections you need. I used my kitchen scale for precision, but if you want to eyeball roughly equal chunks, I won’t tell. Form a patty slightly larger than the circumference of your bun (the burgers shrink a bit during cooking).
Here’s what the patties looked like:
See how big the garlic and herbs are?
Sprinkle both sides of each patty with a pinch of coarse salt.
Pour the olive oil into a cold pan and place the patties in. I recommend flipping them over before you even start cooking, to make sure both sides get oil. Lamb is extremely lean, and the olive oil will help keep it from drying out (and sticking to the pan). It also helps encourage surface browning (which = flavor!). Plus I just think the flavor of olive oil works well with the other flavors you have here.
Set your burner to medium-high heat and let it go until it’s pretty darn hot (so scientific, I know…) and the first side of the burger has browned nicely. Then, flip your burgers. If possible, flip the burgers onto a different part of the pan from where they were before – the metal where the patty was sitting is cooler than the metal around it. Physics!
Let the burgers go at this temperature for 1 min and then turn the heat down to med-low.
I’ve seen lots of methods for burgers cooked in a pan, but this one has always worked best for me. It results in a nice sear on both sides of the burger, and the patties get cooked completely through without drying out.
While your burgers are cooking, you’ve got time to make your goat cheese spread. It’s really easy to make, and really well worth it. I used a middle grade of balsamic vinegar – don’t spend a lot of money on the really fancy stuff, which is honestly best just drizzled over stuff, or, well, sipped straight from the bottle, because it’s amazing…but I also wouldn’t recommend the really cheap stuff either. It’s just too acidic, and the chèvre has enough sharpness already. If you can’t get a sweeter balsamic, I might suggest adding a little dollop of honey or a little bit of sugar to balance the spread out.
To make the cheese spread, I simply crumble the goat cheese in a bowl and drizzle the vinegar over it, and then stir it vigorously until it’s all mixed up. It starts out a little stiff, but eventually it will end up with a smooth consistency that’s easy to stir (and spread on stuff!).
It’s also not particularly photogenic.
I don’t know why it looks so pink and weird here, it’s definitely a very soft beige in real life.
Spread a thin layer on the inside of your buns, top and bottom. Lift your patties up with a slotted spatula and let the excess oil drip off for a moment, then place them on your bun. That’s all that went on these burgers – I would almost say you shouldn’t add lettuce or tomato or anything, I feel like it would just interfere.
I served these with the seasoned curly fries pictured above and a mixed greens salad.
Oh, and my non-lamb-loving fellas? Loved it.
I finally found a use for the overabundance of herbs in my garden – I couldn’t use them all up before we start getting freezing temperatures, but I hated to just let the leaves wither in the cold.
Wound up making wreaths with them, and they look very festive and pretty. They also smell nice, as does the entire first floor of the house where I made them – my friends host a craft night. Unfortunately the straw forms I used irritated the fuck out of my skin, but I rubbed on some Benadryl cream and it should be fine.
The best part is that because I didn’t use any glue or chemicals, once these dry out I can still use the herbs to cook with.
I had enough sage to do an entire 8″ wreath entirely out of it. I don’t use sage much in my cooking, so the fact that my sage plants exploded was a source of chagrin for me.
I made these after reviewing some various instructionals online. Basically I took two 8″ wreath forms and wrapped them slightly loosely with thin floral wire. I gathered the herbs into small bundles and wrapped the stems in masking tape – I tried using floral tape, but honestly that stuff sucked.
Once the herbs were bundled, I simply slipped the taped ends under the wire, working in a gradual circular motion around the form and angling the bundles. Then I looped a heavier aluminum wire around to create a hanger.
Here are the final products:
This one is a mixed bundle of herbs – peppermint, Kentucky Colonel mint, Thai basil (purple flowers), Italian basil flowers, rosemary, lemon thyme, and oregano.
This one is the all-sage wreath.
Both were hung on the door of our 40%-scale TARDIS for their photos:
It was a really easy little craft project. I would say it took me about half an hour to bundle all the herbs, and then about an hour to assemble each wreath. Probably would have been faster if I had had the slightest clue what I was doing.
I chose the straw forms over the styrofoam ones because I thought it would look more organic, but it made kind of a mess (straw bits everywhere) and, as I mentioned, it made me very itchy. Maybe next time I’ll stick with the foam.
Anyway, these need to dry out for a couple of days, and then one is going on the front door. I’ll probably end up gifting the other.
If you watch cooking shows, they always have big, beautiful bunches of fresh herbs to work with. You and I both know that’s not always how it is in our own kitchens – even if you have an herb garden, maybe you got home after dark and don’t want to go out with a flashlight, or it’s been too dry or too cold for it to produce. If you don’t grow your own herbs, you have to buy them, and this can get expensive. Plus, fresh cut herbs don’t keep all that well, so ideally you should buy them the day you’ll use them, and it’s just not convenient to hit the store every day. Dried herbs work fine, but you do lose out on flavor.
One nifty little product can help you cheat and get fresh herb flavor in your cooking: herb butter. Herb butter is available commercially (Kerrygold makes a delicious one), or you can make it at home.
I do grow my own herbs, and I find that sometimes they produce far more than I can use. At other times, especially if it hasn’t rained in a while, there aren’t enough leaves (or they’re dry and crunchy) to make a meal. I balance this out by gathering large quantities when they’re available and preserving them in a variety of ways so that I can use them when the pickings are slim.
Last Sunday, I gathered a big pile of basil, rosemary, sage, lemon thyme, and oregano and turned it into herb butter.
It doesn’t look like much, and believe me, this was the best picture we could get. It’s kind of a queasy green color.
I didn’t measure any of my quantities, and I feel like this is something you should make to your own taste. I had a double handful of basil leaves, three 6″ sprigs of rosemary, twenty sage leaves, a handful of thyme, and a handful of oregano. That’s as exact as it gets, I’m afraid.
Before I went out to pick the herbs, I took out two sticks of unsalted butter and a whole bulb of fresh garlic. The butter needs to get close to room temperature. If you’re in a hurry, you can melt the butter in the microwave, drop the herbs into it, and put it back in the fridge to harden back up, but I find this makes it kind of weird. Not a bad option if you’re planning on using it that day, though.
I sliced the ends off the garlic and smashed it flat with my knife to remove the paper. The entire bulb went into my food processor, which I pulsed until the garlic was little more than paste. After removing all the stems from my other herbs, I added them one at a time, pulsing after each addition. I like my herb butter very smooth, so I run the food processor until the herbs are basically a slurry.
Finally, I added in the butter, which had reached room temperature and was soft. Blending the butter and herbs requires multiple rounds of pulsing and scraping the sides with a spatula. It’s okay to have a few little lumps of unblended butter – I won’t tell.
I divided the result into two small tubs, labeled them, and stuck one in the fridge and one in the freezer. The one in the freezer will keep pretty much indefinitely. I have no idea how long the other one will last – I always use it up before it becomes an issue. But I imagine it will keep for a good long time in a sealed container.
Herb butter is extremely versatile stuff. Just scoop out what you need and get going! I’ve used it as a base for sauces and to saute vegetables. A dollop on the top of a really good steak is fabulous. Smear a little on the outside of a chicken and in the cavity before roasting to get a crisp brown skin, great flavor, and an aroma that will bring everyone in the house running. I imagine it would be good melted on popcorn.
One of the nice things about this mixture is that it contains no salt. I really dislike buying herb blends that contain salt – I prefer to salt things myself.
You can make this with any blend of herbs you like, even if they’re storebought. I don’t recommend buying pre-pureed herbs (the kind in tubes) because they contain a bunch of other crap – sweeteners, preservatives, etc. I’m not one of those people that thinks preservatives are killing our children or anything, but I think you should always err on the side of fewer ingredients you can’t pronounce.