Going to keep this quick today because I got roughly 90 minutes’ worth of sleep last night. This happens to me sometimes, but I’m not entirely sure why it happened this time. I have a couple of theories.
The first is that quarantine has devolved into something close to a vegetative state, so I don’t really need proper sleep because I’m more or less always at rest now. The second and more likely explanation is that I was simply too fired up about this sandwich. Look at that thing.
The sandwich: Lamburger!
The construction: A grilled, ground lamb patty with homemade tzatziki, sliced cucumbers, butterhead lettuce, grilled red onion, and sriracha on a pretzel roll.
The lamb, like a lot of my meat, came from Crowd Cow, where you and I can both get $25 worth of meat if you use my referral code and keep making me a meat influencer. I prepped it by vaguely following this recipe, up until the point where he says to shape the lamb patties like footballs so they fit inside a pita.
I also used AmazingRibs.com’s tzatziki recipe, except I didn’t have sour cream so I added a splash of vinegar to the yogurt. Also — and you may have figured this out by now — I don’t often follow recipes closely and almost never measure anything. Who’s got the type of time for that? It’s nice to have a general sense of proportion, but I always adjust based on what I like and what I have. In this case, I didn’t have that much mint but I had a ton of chives and dill, so I used a ton of chives and dill. (Chives, it turns out, just sort of keep on coming forever if you plant them once. Even in the dead of winter, there are usually chives growing in the pot I use as an herb garden. Useful herb, too.)
I found that site’s recipes because it’s almost always the first place I look for grilling tips when I pick up a meat I haven’t cooked before. The world of online barbecue discourse is fraught with ridiculous pseudoscience, and Meathead Goldwyn is a beacon of reason.
Important background information: I don’t especially love lamb. It’s fine, and it’s decidedly better than not having meat, but it’s rare that I eat lamb and don’t consider how the meal it came in wouldn’t be improved by using plain, old, incredible beef. Basically, as a rule of thumb: Unless your lamb dish comes from Xi’an Famous Foods, I’d rather it be beef. Or squab. You ever get down on some squab? Incredible meat.
I also don’t like onions in most contexts. I’m fine with the flavor of onions and I use them to cook somewhat frequently — it’s unavoidable, really — but something about the texture grosses me out, so usually I try to dice them up into the tiniest pieces possible. But I figured, if nothing else, this shutdown period should be a time to expand our sandwich horizons, and I had some red onion in the fridge, and another thing to throw on the grill gives me more time to play with fire.
What it looks like:
How it tastes: Like a f@#!ing symphony.
Where I went in with doubts about my use of lamb, one bite quieted them: Lamb and tzatziki are a perfect pair. The tart, lively, light, herbaceous flavor of the sauce is the ideal complement to the rich, gamy, garlicky lamb burger, and I suspect those two ingredients alone on a bun might’ve still made this a Hall of Famer. Though the ground lamb did not prove quite as juicy as a beef burger, my heavy hand with the tzatziki ensured the sandwich was thoroughly moist.
Cucumbers are a wildly underrated sandwich topping in general, and here they add crunch, moisture and flavor. The lettuce? Whatever. It’s lettuce. I could take it or leave it, to be honest. It made the sandwich a little more colorful.
Someone on Twitter called me out for mixing tzatziki and sriracha — as though that’s some sort of faux pas — but the light squirt of sriracha that I used added just some subtle heat to the whole thing, amplifying all the flavors without making any bite taste like sriracha itself.
And the red onion, I want to say, was a great call by yours truly. Grilling it brought out some of its sweetness, and there was enough textural diversity to the sandwich that I didn’t even notice the slitheriness that usually turns me off of onions. I was proud of myself for including it. I remain proud of myself.
All the parts are good, and yet the sandwich is better than the sum of its parts. If I had one quibble, it’d be that I screwed up on the bun a little by foolishly forgetting to take it out of the freezer to thaw before I started cooking. Instead, I threw it on the grill for a minute, but the inside part was still frozen when the lamb patties were ready, so I hastily cut it open to make sure the interior bun got warm, and in so doing I hacked the pretzel rolls to shreds. So it goes. Didn’t really take away from the sandwich, which ruled.
Hall of Fame? Yeah. Heck yeah. Go Ted.