Art and Soul Grilled Lamb Miniburgers

It’s officially fall, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that it’s time for the last installment of The Associated Press’ “20 Burgers of Summer” series.
The final entry to be presented comes from Art Smith, whose burger memories stretch back to the 100-year-old Florida cattle farm on which he grew up — and from which his ground beef came, according to AP Food Editor J.M. Hirsch.
Smith, Oprah Winfrey’s former personal chef, in an e-mail said, “Mother only made them for Saturday noon dinner, and only in the hot summertime. She would make fat burgers out of the very red meat and season it carefully with salt and pepper. 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.”
Smith said his for toppings his mother had crispy iceberg lettuce, warm tomatoes from the garden, mustard, mayonnaise and her pickles. But forget about ketchup. “That was for hot dogs.”
He added, “Burgers are pure comfort. They remind me of my childhood, the people I love and the simplicity of life. We live complicated lives. Why make your food complicated?”
Smith offered a lamb slider topped with cucumbers and a tomato-kalamata olive relish, all tucked in a wedge of whole-wheat pita bread, for the burgers series.
Art and Soul Grilled Lamb Miniburgers8 ounces ground lamb
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons crushed pistachios
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large whole-wheat pita pocket, cut into quarters
Tomato-kalamata relish (recipe follows)
Yogurt cucumbers (recipe follows)
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.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 414 calories, 56 percent of calories from fat, 26 grams fat (8 grams saturated, no trans, 46 milligrams cholesterol, 33 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 4 grams fiber, 1,134 milligrams sodium.
Yogurt Cucumbers
3 tablespoons plain Greek-style yogurt
1 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, julienned
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
6 ounces rice wine vinegar
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate until needed.
Yield: About 2 cups.
Heirloom Tomato-Kalamata Relish
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.
Yield: About 1½ cups.

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