Ahh…Spring is in the air. The smell of fresh cut grass. People planting flowers. trimming hedges and in general sprucing up their yards. For most, this is the beginning of grilling season. People are dragging their gas or charcoal grills out of the shed or the garage (or maybe just that corner of the yard its been hidden in all winter), cleaning them off and prepping them for another season of use. Maybe realizing that their ole friend won’t make it another season and rush off to one of those big box stores to get a replacement. For us here at Casa de Griffin, it’s just another day. We do this all year and
laugh feel bad for those who only grill or ‘cue during the nice months. How can you possible go that long without good ‘cue? I’ll never be able to understand, but then again I might just be a little crazy.
Last week I was at the grocery store, procuring some much needed item or ingredient which now escapes my mind. Whenever I go to the store, I always have to walk by the meat section. Just to see if they are having any deals or if anything looks really good. And I ALWAYS have to walk by the very end of that section. You know…the part where they put the meat that is marked down for a fast sale before it has to be tossed? Granted, most of the time I wouldn’t buy, let alone touch what is in that section. But….but I have found some pretty sweet deals there and if the meat hasn’t started to turn a nasty brownish color, what’s the big deal? I’ve scored some nice rib-eyes and some pork loins there before. Heck, one time I found a prime rib! On this particular day, they had a few packages of ground lamb that were in a cryovac package….still nice and pink….and there was still 4 days till the sell by date. Marked down over 50%! Not sure what I was going to do with lamb, but it was coming home with me!
Originally I had thought about maybe doing a meatloaf with 1/3 beef, 1/3 pork and 1/3 lamb. Until my wife pointed out that its a 1/3 veal, not lamb, if you are going to do it that way. Oops! And then it struck me….Lamb Sliders!! Why not? It could work and I was sure there was some recipe out there that I could
copy adapt to suit our palates.
One of the recipes I found had a garlic aioli that went along with the sliders.
- 1 cup mayonnaise (we used a light mayo)
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely mined
- 1 tsp hot sauce (we prefer Franks, but use whatever you like)
- ½ tsp freshly ground coriander
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Pinch of salt and pepper
Mix together the ingredients and adjust to taste. You may like more or less heat or garlic. That’s up to you. I suggest making the aioli at least and hour ahead of time and placing in the fridge so the ingredients can mingle and get happy. Mine was done about 3 hours ahead of time.
Now on to the sliders themselves. We used two recipes and cobbled together our own based on the ingredients we had on hand. At this point, neither of us felt like going to the store, so we worked with what we had.
- 1 pound ground lamb
- ¼ yellow onion diced (this was a lot of onion; you might want to cut back)
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
- ½ tbsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1/8 tsp ground coriander
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix the ingredients together, handling the meat as little as possible. Shape into 6 patties and then place in the fridge for a minimum of 5 minutes. This gives the sliders a chance to set and helps to prevent them from crumbling apart on the grill. Speaking of grill, you want to preheat your grill to a medium/medium high temperature. On our Egg, I was aiming for 400F. Once your grill is preheated, and the grates have been scrubbed clean, place the sliders on the grill.
If you enjoy a bit of smokey flavor (and who doesn’t with a burger? Otherwise you might as well cook it inside….gasp!), you can add some wood chips to your coals. I would not advise going with a strong wood like mesquite, hickory or pecan. Instead, choose a fruit tree wood. We went with apple, but I’m sure cherry would work as well. You want to add a bit of smoke flavor, but not overpower the lamb.
Our sliders took about 8 minutes to cook, flipping halfway through (but make sure you are cooking to temp, not time, We were shotting for 160F, not sure if that is the correct temp for lamb, but sounded right to me). Please, fight the temptation to over flip your burgers, they only need to be flipped once, and Please, Please, Please NEVER EVER push down on your patties with a spatula!! This only forces out the juicy goodness from inside the patty. You don’t want a dried out burger, do you?
If you like your buns toasted, throw them on the grill when your burgers are about done. One to two minutes should about do it.
Aside from the garlic aioli, we topped our sliders as we normally would a burger. Some lettuce, tomato and onion. Mrs. G opted for some provolone cheese, but I kept mine simple. As for sides…nothing says gourmet like some tater tots, right? (my wife thinks I have a strange thing about tater tot. She maybe right, but who doesn’ t like tots?)
We thought the lamb was a nice change from regular ole beef sliders. It wasn’t gamey at all. The onions (which I would cut down on next time) helped to keep the sliders juicy, and the mustard, while not offering up a lot of flavor, helped bind the meat together. Next time I would like to add some fresh mint or oregano to it (maybe even some parsley) as these seem to be some of the more traditional ingredients when lamb is involved. I would also cut down on the garlic. Between the 3 cloves in the aioli and the 3 in the sliders, we had no fear of vampires attacking us in our sleep, and garlic is supposed to help you sleep better. But you wouldn’t want to be kissing anybody who hadn’t also been eating these sliders. If you are still on the fence about whether or not to try lamb, I would suggest you do.
Hope you enjoyed and would love to hear any comments or experiences you may have had with lamb. It’s still new to us.