Spring: In like a lion and out like a lamb burger?
April is here which means warmer weather, rain showers, budding trees, my favorite Cadbury chocolate eggs and of course Easter! Many families like to celebrate Easter with a big ol’ honey baked ham or a delicious leg of lamb. To celebrate the start of Spring I created a lamb burger that has such dynamic flavors and textures that you might even make these babies the Easter dinner headliner. Don’t like lamb? No problem! Make this recipe using good old fashioned beef chuck burgers! But...wow…the grassy flavor of the lamb combined with the tangy, creamy goat cheese, the crisp, lemony fennel and mint slaw, and the smoky and sweet bacon tomato jam are culinary chemistry: flavors that interact with each other perfectly in your mouth. This recipe is BAAAHHHDDD AS$...ok that was cheesy. Tip: Make extra bacon jam and use it on gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, make little crostini hors d’oeuvres with the jam and gouda or Havarti cheese, put it on turkey club sandwiches or even savory scones! The fennel salad is even great as just a side dish or as a substitute for boring old coleslaw that is full of fattening mayo!
Bacon Tomato Jam
- 1/3 of a Pound of raw Bacon diced into small pieces
- 2 ½ Cups Ripe Tomatoes-Diced Small ( About 5 Medium Tomatoes)
- ½ a Large Viladlia Onion- Diced Small
- ¾ Cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ Teaspoon Salt (or more..taste it)
- 1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- Cook the bacon in a deep skillet or medium saucepan until it is crispy and brown. Using a slotted spoon remove the bacon, drain it on paper towels and set it aside. Reserve about 1 ½ Tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pan.
- Put the pan with the bacon fat on low-medium heat on the stove. Add the onion, tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil stirring often.
- Add the bacon back to the pan with the tomato mixture.
- Simmer stirring with a wooden spoon pretty frequently (making sure it doesn’t burn) until it starts to thicken and the onions get soft and caramelized. You will cook it for about 30- 40 minutes or until most of the water evaporates and you are left with a thick jammy texture.
- Put in mason jars or a bowl and refrigerate.
Fennel Mint Slaw-
- 1 Large Fennel Bulb
- 2-3 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Honey
- 1 Teaspoon Whole Grain Mustard
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 1 ½ to 2 Tablespoons Fresh Mint Chopped Fine
- 2 Teaspoons Shallot Minced (or Red or White Onion)
- Using a knife or a mandolin, shave or thinly slice the fennel into 1/8 inch slices starting from the bottom of the bulb. Do not use the green, “hair” or “fronds”at the top of the fennel bulb. Fennel has this great anise flavor and its texture is like celery meets an onion.
- In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, whole grain mustard, salt, pepper and shallot.
- Toss the fresh mint with the fennel in a big bowl.
- Toss the fennel with the dressing and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight so the fennel can really marinate in the flavors.
Lamb Burgers- Makes 4 Burgers
- 1 ½ Pounds Ground Lamb ( sometimes I mix 1 lb lamb and ½ pound of ground chuck for extra flavor)
- ½ Teaspoon Minced Garlic
- 1/3 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- Salt and Pepper
- 4 Burger Buns- Preferably Ciabatta Rolls (scooped out so there isn’t too much bread)
- Bacon Tomato Jam (recipe above)
- Fennel Mint Slaw (recipe above)
- 4 oz Creamy Chevre Goat Cheese
- Preheat your outdoor barbeque, indoor grill pan or George Forman Grill.
- Using your hands, mix together the ground meat with the garlic and oregano. Make 4 equal sized burger patties that are about ¾ to 1 inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
- Grill the burgers for above 5-6 minutes on each side or until they are just slightly pink inside (or however you like them!) While the burgers are grilling, spread a little butter on the inside of the burger buns and place them on the grill as well. Get the buns nice and toasty on all sides.
- Spread about 1 Tablespoon (or more ;) ) of the Bacon Tomato Jam on the inside of each bun half.
- When the burgers are cooked, place the burgers on the jam coated buns and top each one with about 1 ounce of goat cheese. Top the goat cheese with a nice little mound of the Fennel Mint Slaw and place the top of the bun on top.
Serve and salivate!