I’m not exaggerating when I call these the ultimate Lamb Burgers: freshly ground lamb shaped, seasoned and cooked to perfection, creamy feta cheese, peppery arugula, sweet tomato and a feather light brioche bun slathered with harissa aioli.
It was the wonderful day I spent with my dad photographing his paintings. While we sat at a little table in his backyard, Keith was having lunch with a friend at Hole in the Wall – not ‘a hole in the wall’, but a lovely little restaurant in Sebastopol, California by that name. We already knew that we loved their breakfast dishes and that a Dutch Baby for the table is an absolute necessity. But this time, Keith came home raving about their lamb burger.
It had some of the typical items you’d expect on a lamb burger, like feta and arugula, but also something new to me – harissa aioli. And you know what? It is magic. Magic! Combine a generous portion of harissa (a spicy Moroccan pepper sauce) with fresh garlic and mayonnaise and you have a beyond delicious condiment.
Since we like our burgers on the rare side, I like to know that the meat is freshly ground so we decided to grind our own. For Christmas a couple of years ago, Keith’s dad bought me a meat grinding attachment for my stand mixer. Now I’m kicking myself for taking so long to try it. We ground a 5-pound leg of lamb in 4 minutes flat. I don’t know why it matters, but the flavor of the burger was notably better than any pre-ground meat I’ve had from the grocery store. If you don’t have a manual grinder or mixer attachment, you can also use your food processor or ask your butcher to grind it.
But the fresh ground lamb isn’t a must. The Harissa Aioli is. Promise you’ll try it.
Lamb Burgers with Feta and Harissa Aioli
For the Harissa Aioli
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 4 teaspoons harissa
- 1 large clove garlic minced
For the Lamb Burgers
- 1 1/3 pounds freshly ground lamb
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 brioche buns
- 2 ounces feta crumbled (Valbreso brand is my favorite)
- 2 cups baby arugula or baby greens
- 4 slices tomato
- Make the Harissa Aioli by whisking together mayonnaise, harissa and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat until hot.
- Meanwhile, divide ground lamb evenly and form four, 1-inch thick burgers, making a depression in the center for even cooking. Season both sides of burger with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Transfer burgers to hot grill pan and cook 4-5 minutes on each side (8 minutes total for medium-rare, 10 minutes total for medium). Let burgers rest 5 minutes.
- Assemble burgers: slather bottoms of each brioche bun with aioli and top with burger, feta, arugula and tomato. Slather inside of top bun with aioli and place on top. Serve.