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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 1:00 am

N. African flavor pairs with lamb

AMERICA'S TEST KITCHEN

Harissa is a traditional North African condiment that has an irresistibly complex chile flavor.

It pairs perfectly with lamb's earthy taste in this rich, spiced burger. 

Grilled Harissa Lamb Burgers

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons harissa, divided

1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

11/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, divided

11/2 pounds ground lamb

1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided

1 red onion, sliced into 1/2 inch-thick rounds

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon table salt

4 hamburger buns, toasted if desired

1 cup baby arugula

Combine mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon harissa, mint, and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Break ground lamb into small pieces in large bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon harissa, remaining 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and gently knead with hands until well combined. Divide lamb mixture into 4 equal portions, then gently shape each portion into 3/4 inch-thick patty. Using your fingertips, press center of each patty down until about 1/2 inch thick, creating slight divot.

Push toothpick horizontally through each onion round to keep rings intact while grilling. Brush onion rounds with oil.

• For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

• For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.

Clean and oil cooking grate. Place onion rounds on grill and cook (covered if using gas) until softened and lightly charred, 3 to 6 minutes per side. As they finish cooking, transfer onion rounds to bowl and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, season patties with salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place patties on grill, divot side up, and cook until well browned on first side, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip patties and continue to cook until browned on second side and meat is cooked to desired temperature. Transfer burgers to platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

Remove toothpicks from onion rounds and separate into rings. Spread mayonnaise mixture on bun tops. Serve burgers on buns, topped with onion and arugula. Makes 4 servings.