Lamb Burgers with Cheddar and Spicy Onion Marmalade

May 18th, 2009 by megan · 17 Comments

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Lamb Burgers with Cheddar and Spicy Onion Marmalade

Lamb Burgers with Cheddar and Spicy Onion Marmalade

Lamb and cheddar and kale and mint and onion and spiciness! I feel like I don’t even have to write an introduction to this recipe. Except to say that I may like lamb burgers better than beef burgers. And that the lamb burgers would be good with a dollop of Greek yogurt instead of the onion marmalade (or maybe both?). Or with homemade ketchup.

One more thing: I want to talk to you about cooking the onions for the Spicy Onion Marmalade. You don’t want to brown them. Nope. What you want to do is to coax out their natural sugars and caramelize those sugars until you get a reduced, soft, marmalade-y texture. It takes a long time, so be patient.

Oh, and one last thing. If you’re not familiar with harissa, go out and get yourself some, stat. It’s a spicy North African paste made from chiles and spices. Sometimes I make my own, but more often than not I use DEA brand, in the yellow tube.


For the Spicy Onion Marmalade:
2 large red onions, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons
2 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
3 whole dried chiles (I used chile de arbol, but you can use any small, hot, dried chile) or 1 teaspoon dried chile flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey

For the Lamb Burgers:
1 pound pasture-raised ground lamb
1 tablespoon harissa
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped (or pressed in a garlic press)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
15-20 fresh mint leaves, washed and dried, torn if large
1/2 cup baby kale leaves
White cheddar, to taste
Whole wheat rolls or hamburger buns

Special Equipment: Grill pan or grill (optional)


For the Spicy Onion Marmalade:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saute pan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion slices and stir to coat. Add the thyme, chiles, salt, and a few grindings of black pepper. Turn the heat down to low.
  2. Cook the onion mixture, stirring occationally, until the onions have cooked down and have caramelized (see note, above), about 45 minutes. Add a tablespoon of water if you notice the onions sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Stir in the honey and the balsamic vinegar to taste. Taste and correct for salt.
  4. Remove any remnants of the whole chiles (if using) before serving.

For the Lamb Burgers:

  1. Preheat the grill pan or the grill. If not using a grill pan or grill, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the lamb, the harissa, the cumin, the coriander, the garlic, and the salt. Mix gently with your hands (do not over mix or your burgers will be tough). Form into 4 even balls, then flatten the balls slightly.
  3. Place the lamb patties on the grill pan, on the grill, or in the saute pan. Cook until grill marks appear, 3-4 minutes. Flip patties over and cook on the other side for another 3-4 minutes for medium rare. (Cook longer for a more well-done burger.)
  4. Toss the mint leaves and baby kale leaves together. Place each burger on a warmed roll or bun, top with cheddar cheese, a dollop of the spicy onion marmalade, and the kale and mint mixture. Serve hot with additional harissa, if desired.

Makes 4 small burgers.


The Duo Dishes May 18, 2009 at 1:12 pm

You’re so ready for the grill. :) Delectable.

megan May 18, 2009 at 1:59 pm

I only wish I actually HAD a grill!! I just have to pretend with a grill pan. :)

Joan Nova May 18, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Nicely spiced burgers and the onion marmalade is a great topping (and yes, I’d prefer it to yogurt), but I also think I would have preferred feta to cheddar (maybe it’s mind over matter).

Yupgigirl May 18, 2009 at 8:23 pm

This looks exactly what I’ve been looking for! I had lamb burgers a week ago, and have been searching for relatively non-complicated recipes. Thank you for the wonderfully detailed recipe and pictures.

nina May 19, 2009 at 4:06 am

Lamb to me has a lot more flavor than beef so I have to agree with you! I will also have the onions and the greek yogurt, thx! I’m hungry now!

Natasha - 5 Star Foodie May 19, 2009 at 6:36 am

The burgers sound excellent and I love the idea of the spicy onion marmalade – sounds just incredible!

Anticiplate May 19, 2009 at 10:26 am

These look perfect for summer. Lamb, Cheddar, and Caramelized Onions. You cant go wrong there! I make a lamb slider that is similar to this except I use tzatziki sauce instead of caramelized onions.

megan May 19, 2009 at 10:53 am

mmmm lamb sliders! mmmm tzatzkiki! mmmm feta! So many options for lamb burgers!

oneshotbeyond May 19, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I rarely cook with lamb…these look succulent and juicy!

christina May 19, 2009 at 3:14 pm

reminds me of Cafe Lafayette Lamb burger! Now I want to make it!

katiek @kitchensidecear May 21, 2009 at 2:55 am

I really like these flavor profiles. Hitting up the mint and lamb, along with the spicy harissa. Very impressed. Definitely yogurt too.

sivan harlap May 21, 2009 at 10:23 pm

YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM! can i come over for dinner?!

gastroanthropologist May 27, 2009 at 7:41 am

I’m so excited to make these. I’m getting fresh ground lamb from a farm not to far away this Saturday! Now I know exactly what to make. That spicy onion marmalade sounds like the perfect spread for lamb!

liz {zested} May 27, 2009 at 8:15 pm

I made these this weekend and they were absolutely fabulous. They’ll definitely be a bbq staple at our house going forward. Thanks so much for the idea!

Anticiplate May 29, 2009 at 3:14 pm

This looks freaking amazing! That spicy onion marmalade, especially. And, i HEART harissa in burgers.

megan Jun 2, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Isn’t harissa just The Best?

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