At The Breslin, April Bloomfield’s much-written-about “British Gastropub” at 16 West 29th Street,(TEL: (212) 679-1939), I became totally enamored of the Lamb Burger. It’s almost as outrageously tasty as the “Thrice Cooked Chips” that are as good, if not better, than any French fry I have ever tasted outside of France. Together, these two items make the long wait for a table a reasonable proposition. And that’s saying something because the place takes no reservations and even at lunch it’s jammed long before noon.
That’s the hour when you can be seated for lunch, breakfast dishes having been removed from the last table moments before. By that time, you will have plenty of company. Perhaps 20 people will be waiting for their tables. My advice: Eat at the Bar. The bartenders are terrific guys and there are even two ‘cask ales’ drawn up from a chilled cellar and allowing you to have the full English Pub experience of semi-warm beer. For diehard Americans, they also have draught and bottled beers. Or you can opt for some pricey wines by the glass. But this is all in preparation for the main event: Your lamb burger, cooked to perfection, nestled in a ciabatta bun and accompanied by a creamy dollop of Feta and a dish of Cumin mayonnaise. This was the inspiration for the recipe that follows.
While The Breslin Lamb Burger is an exercise in restraint, I wanted to make mine a little spicier, to take it out of England altogether to another lamb eating area…like Turkey and the Middle East. I even did away with the Ciabatta opting instead for a much lower carb Pita. And instead of The Breslin’s Cumin mayo, I made a yogurt sauce with cumin, green onions, cucumber and Alleppo peppers. Then, with some halved grape tomatoes, I had a really satisfying and very different Burger. And it was absolutely delicious, served with some whole wheat couscous studded with carrots. Here are the recipes:
Recipe for Lamb Burgers with Yogurt Sauce
1 ½ lbs ground lamb
1 cup chopped scallions
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
½ tsp. Alleppo Red Pepper Flakes* (or use Crushed Chili Pepper Flakes)
*Available at www.kalustyans.com
For Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup Plain Yogurt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
4 6-inch diameter pita breads, tops cut off each
1 cup halved Grape or Cherry tomatoes
To make the couscous:
Follow package directions, adding 1 carrot, diced, to the
Water before adding the couscous.
First, make the burgers. Combine the lamb, ½ cup of onions, 1 tsp. of salt, pumpkin spice mixture, and ½ tsp. alleppo or chile pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Form into 4 equal sized patties each about ¾ inch thick.
Make the sauce: Combine yogurt, cumin, remaining ½ cup onions, ¼ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Sitr to blend. Let stand 15 minutes.
In a heavy cast iron skillet, on a grill pan or on a barbecue, grill burgers over medium high heat to desired degree of doneness, about 4 minutes a side for medium.
Carefully open pitas to make pockets. Insert a dollop of yogurt sauce, then the burger and finish with yogurt sauce and tomatoes. Serves 4.