Food & Drink

Lamb burger built with memories in mind

For Art Smith, a great burger is rich with not just flavor, but also memories.

And his burger memories stretch back to the 100-year-old Florida cattle farm on which he grew up — and from which his ground beef came.

“Mother only made them for Saturday noon dinner, and only in the hot summertime,” Smith, Oprah Winfrey’s former personal chef, said via e-mail.

“She would make fat burgers out of the very red meat and season it carefully with salt and pepper,” he said. “What makes hers great is that she would heat a cast-iron skillet blazing hot and the burgers would get a beautiful sear, which makes the best flavor.”

For toppings, it was crispy iceberg lettuce, warm tomatoes from the garden, mustard, mayonnaise and his mother’s pickles. But no ketchup. “That was for hot dogs.”

“Burgers are pure comfort,” he said. “They remind me of my childhood, the people I love and the simplicity of life. We live complicated lives. Why make your food complicated?”

For AP’s 20 Burgers of Summer series, Smith offered a lamb slider topped with cucumbers and a tomato-Kalamata olive relish, all tucked in a wedge of whole-wheat pita bread. And he has imbued this burger with a fresh batch of memories. After perfecting it with the help of Travis Timberlake, executive chef at Smith’s Art and Soul restaurant in Washington, he served 1,000 of them at his wedding in August.

YOGURT CUCUMBERS

Start to finish: 10 minutes

Makes about 2 cups

3 tablespoons plain Greek-style yogurt

1 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced

1 small red onion, julienned

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

6 ounces rice wine vinegar

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate until needed.

HEIRLOOM TOMATO-KALAMATA RELISH

Start to finish: 10 minutes

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 medium heirloom tomato, finely diced

8 pitted Kalamata olives, finely chopped

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, cored and finely diced

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Kosher salt, as needed

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well, then cover and set aside.

ART AND SOUL GRILLED LAMB MINI-BURGERS

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

8 ounces ground lamb

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

2 tablespoons crushed pistachios

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 large whole-wheat pita pocket, cut into quarters

Tomato-kalamata relish (see recipe above)

Yogurt cucumbers (see recipe above)

Heat a grill to medium-high. Coat the grates with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the lamb, feta cheese, pistachios, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well, then form the mixture into 2-ounce patties.

Grill the burgers for 2 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until desired doneness. Briefly toast the pita pocket quarters. To serve, place each burger in a pita quarter, then garnish with tomato-kalamata relish and yogurt cucumbers.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 414 calories; 231 calories from fat (56 percent of total calories); 26 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 46 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrate; 15 g protein; 4 g fiber; 1,134 mg sodium.

  Comments