It is rare that Flint, Michigan—my home town until I went away to college—is mentioned in a positive light, so this recipe caught my attention. Here, Milk Street FB Community member Jennifer Wozniak of Flint, drizzles tahini onto lamb burgers that she spices up with sumac, cumin and red pepper flakes. Then the burgers are served topped with feta cheese and sandwiched in brioche buns.
Milk Street took it a step further and played up the Middle Eastern flavor profile by spiking the tahini with Greek yogurt, lemon juice and more sumac, then spreads the mixture like mayonnaise on each bun half. We like to top the burgers with lettuce, tomato and possibly thinly sliced red onion.
Words to the wise, don’t buy crumbled feta cheese. Look for it sold in a block so it can be sliced into slabs for layering onto the burgers. Also, be sure to chill the patties before cooking. This firms them up so they’re easier to handle.
Spiced Lamb Burgers with Feta and Tahini Sauce
- ⅔ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 Tbsp. plus ¼ tsp. ground sumac, divided
- 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 large egg yolks
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 3 Tbsp. tahini
- 3 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 4 brioche buns or hamburger buns, split and toasted
- 4 oz. block feta cheese, sliced into 4 even slabs
- In a large bowl, combine the panko, 1 tablespoon sumac, cumin, pepper flakes, yolks, ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and ¼ cup water. Using a fork, mash the mixture until evenly moistened and well combined.
- Add the lamb and mix with your hands until well combined. Form into 4 evenly sized patties, each about 4 inches in diameter, then place on a large plate and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, the remaining ¼ teaspoon sumac and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper; set aside.
- In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the patties and cook until well browned on the bottoms, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip each patty, reduce to medium-low and cook until well browned on the second sides and the centers reach 160°F, another 5 to 7 minutes.
- Transfer to a clean plate, tent with foil and let rest for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, spread the tahini sauce on the bun halves. Sandwich the burgers in the buns, placing a slice of feta on each patty.
Recipe adapted from Milk Street