Friday, October 5, 2007

Hamburger, Lamburger

My firstborn son is a sheep farmer...or is that sheep rancher? I think in New York State we have farms, not ranches. I called him a shepherd but I was wrong. He says he is a "flock master."

Since we are a major investor in the sheep farm, the flock master gifts us with all the lamb we want. Now understand, this means the entire lamb....not just a rack or a leg or some chops. We are all familiar with those cuts. The lamb shanks are not a problem either, think lamb osso bucco. The shoulder chops were just a bit on the tough side so when it came time to tackle a shoulder roast, I decided that a shoulder deconstructed was the way to go. After separating all the bits of meat from the gristle and sinew, I marinated them overnight in evoo, garlic, lemon juice and mint. Next day I threaded the little morsels onto skewers and grilled them with peppers, mushrooms,onions and potatoes.

I tell this story because last night we used up the last of the lamb "hamburger" or so it was labeled. I think "lamburger" is a more appropriate name. And on the lamburgers I used the last of the mint sauce I had made for the skewered lamb. In fact, the lamburgers were so good I would even consider entering the recipe in a "hamburger" contest. I just need to tweak a few things. Like how to make the burger so it doesn't fall apart and how to size the burger so it fits into the human mouth.

While I do believe that the best burger is one that drips and oozes and ultimately falls apart while you are eating it, I take issue with the BIG burger that doesn't fit into your mouth even for that first bite. Unfortunately, after the ciabatta bread, the tapenade (recipe follows), the feta, the onions, the tomato, the lettuce and the lamburger, taking that first bite was a challenge. Complicating the matter was the fact that the burger itself was falling apart. Now lamburger is not what I would call lean so I simply mixed it with garlic powder, salt & pepper, some of my homemade mint sauce (recipe follows) and some ketchup. They barely made it off the grill in one piece and eating the completed lamburger was beyond our abilities. So we ate the lamb with a fork accompanied with the remaining bread and toppings in hand. Delicious! Just not a dish that would win over a judge until I can figure out how to get it from plate to mouth!

TAPENADE I made this as an appetizer last week and had some leftover for the burgers.

1 c pitted kalamata olives
1 c pitted domestic black olives
3 T grated romano cheese
1 T pureed garlic
1 t fresh basil, minced
1/2 c evoo

In a food processor chop olives until finely chopped. Combine with remaining ingredients. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Makes 2 cups. Serve with bread, crackers. Good on lamburgers.

MINT SAUCE Made this up to go with the skewered lamb. Used the leftovers mixed into the lamburgers and also spooned on top of the cooked burger. Soooo good!

1/4 c water
2T sugar
1/4 c finely chopped mint
1/2 c fig balsamic vinegar (or malt vinegar)

Combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in mint and vinegar. You may increase the sugar if desired.

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