“ This is one of my favorite Bon Appetit recipes of all-time. I make it every summer — the lamb fat seeps into the pita (in a GOOD way) so it gets extra tasty. Also, so easy. Love love love. Careypolis Brooklyn 10/31/17”.
Thank you Careypolis for your ringing endorsement. I could not agree with you more. I came across this recipe, which Bon Appetit first published in 2014, quite by accident. Its author, Anissa Helou, lives in London where she writes, teaches and cooks the food of her native Lebanon and the Middle East. It’s safe to say she knows a lot about lamb. And this recipe certainly is a tour-de-force. The Bon Appetit description is as follows: “As the lamb cooks inside the pita, the fat will render into the bread, creating a crunchy, compact, vibrantly flavored meat pie that’s unlike any burger you’ve ever had”. I’d add this to any summer grilling repertoire in a heartbeat. And you don’t even have to have a grill to make it.
For absolute recipe purists, I confess to having altered Ms. Halou’s. I was starting with one pound of ground lamb, not the original 2 ½ lbs of lamb shoulder its author used. I didn’t vary the ingredients and used every one. It was the quantities that I re-jiggered to compensate for my use of less lamb. Nevertheless, I wanted every bit of onion and parsley, and coriander and cumin are two of my favorite spices with lamb. So I didn’t cut back using them. I ended up with an absolutely superb flavor. I also used a stove top grill both times I cooked them. I am sure that firing up the Weber will produce a glorious result as well. So please do add these to your next summer get-together. They need to chill an hour—or up to 8. And you can put the lamb into the pita an hour before you’re going to cook them. I used enough lamb in each Pita to make a patty about 3/8 of an inch thick.
Alongside the Lamb Burgers, I served grape tomatoes, sliced in half and dressed in Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil, then showered with parsley. I also made Tzatziki, a great tart accompaniment to the burgers. In lieu of an exact recipe, here’s what to do: Tzatziki an easy thing to put together: Peel a whole cucumber, dice it into bite sized pieces, then mix in a container of Greek yogurt. You can add a clove of finely minced garlic. (I use the microplane to mince the garlic.) The add dill or mint or even parsley. Salt the mixture and then taste.
Here is the recipe for the Burgers, adjusted to make 4-6 servings depending on how much lamb mixture you want to use in your Pitas.
Spicy Lamb Burgers from Anissa Helou
Full of flavor, these are an exceptional addition to summer grilling even if it's done on a stovetop.
- 1 pounds ground lamb, preferably shoulder
- 1 medium Vidalia onion, very finely chopped
- ¾ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 cup olive oil, plus more for grilling
- 4 – 6 inch pita breads with pockets
- Step 1 Using a fork, mix lamb, onion, parsley, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and ¼ cup oil in a large bowl. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
- Step 2 Prepare grill for medium heat and oil grate. Working one at a time, open each pita pocket by cutting along seam, halfway around perimeter. Spoon filling into pitas, spreading to edges. Close, pressing on filling to seal.
- Step 3 Grill pitas until filling is cooked through and bread is crisp, about 5 minutes per side.
- Step 4 DO AHEAD: Filling can be made 8 hours ahead. Keep chilled. Pita breads can be stuffed 1 hour ahead. Cover and chill.