You know summer is close when I start posting about burgers. Last week I went traditional, and although juicy cheeseburgers have their place in this world, I couldn’t resist these decadent lamb burgers from Food & Wine. It’s been a while since I’ve had lamb, and I couldn’t believe how tender it was. Every bite melts in your mouth (it also doesn’t hurt that a toasted bun is slathered in goat cheese and topped with wilted spinach). The goat cheese/spinach combo was so appealing that I might be topping it on a grilled Portobello sometime soon...
The recipe garnished the burgers with marjoram leaves, but I took it a step further and drizzled on reduced balsamic vinegar to finish it off. Paired with a crisp glass of rose, it was a great end to the holiday weekend.
Lamb Burgers with Goat Cheese and Garlicky Spinach
Recipe adapted from Food & Wine
1/2 pound spinach, stems discarded and leaves rinsed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
2 tablespoons dry red wine, preferably Pinot Noir (I substituted red wine vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large garlic clove, minced
4 slices of peasant bread or brioche
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup balsamic vinegar
Heat a medium skillet over moderately high heat. Add a large handful of spinach and cook, stirring, until the leaves are wilted. Transfer the wilted spinach to a colander and repeat with the remaining leaves. Gently squeeze the spinach dry, coarsely chop and reserve.
In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the red onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Transfer the onion to a large bowl and let cool. Add the ground lamb to the bowl and break it up slightly. Add the red wine, cumin, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and blend well. Gently form the mixture into four 4-inch patties.
In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the minced garlic and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Add the wilted spinach and cook, stirring, until hot. Season the spinach with salt and pepper, cover and keep warm.
For the balsamic vinegar, bring to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer until vinegar has thickened, about 10 minutes. Watch it closely toward the end--a minute can be the difference between perfect and burned vinegar.
Light a grill. Lightly brush the bread with olive oil and grill, turning once, until lightly browned, about 1 minute per side. Spread the fresh goat cheese on the bread and top with the garlicky spinach.Brush the lamb patties with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until the patties are nicely charred outside and medium-rare within, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chopped lamb steaks to the bread, garnish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, if using.