Mary Beth Clark

Culinary Educator · Consultant · Author

Lamb Burgers with Harissa, Halloumi Cheese, and Parsley Chimichurri Sauce

Fire up the grill! Flavor Lamb Burgers with Harissa then top with Halloumi Cheese and Chimichurri Sauce making one of the best burgers you ever taste. During the past two decades, Argentina's Chimichurri Sauce soared in popularity especially when paired with beef steak, then beef burgers. Have you tried it with lamb? Ditto Halloumi cheese? Make big, fat burgers, with bellies overlapping crunchy grilled bread. Layer flavors keeping them distinct. Lamb loves harissa, parsley, and oregano, and they love it back, so be generous in flavoring.

Lamb Burgers: Per Serving
8 ounces (225 g) ground lamb
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml; very mild) to 2 teaspoons (10 ml; feel the heat) harissa or to taste
1 teaspoon (5 ml) very cold water
Salt to taste
Coarsely ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive or sunflower or grapeseed oil for cooking if needed

1. Combine the lamb and harissa. Hydrate with water. Season with salt. Gently mix, keeping it tender. Shape into a patty, do not press tightly. Make a thumbprint dimple in the center of one side so when cooking the burger it evens out into uniform height rather than swelling into a hill. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight for flavors to blend. Remove from refrigeration 45 minutes before cooking to remove the chill. Cover the burger's surface with coarsely ground black pepper. Grill, broil, or cook in a cast iron skillet. Remove from the heat and rest while cooking the Halloumi cheese. This brief rest allows the juices to flow throughout the burger.

Parsley Chimichurri Sauce: Makes 1 cup (235 ml) sauce.
Tart, sharp, and hot, soothed by a mild green herb, parsley. Keep this uncooked sauce fresh and sassy.
Make it only a few hours before serving, or cover and refrigerate overnight.

1 large bunch fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley (4 ounces or 115 g) (Volume: 1 cup (235 ml) leaves firmly packed then chopped)
2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (Volume: 10 ml to 30 ml)

Red Wine Vinegar Mixture:
2 tablespoons (30 ml) red wine vinegar (6% acidity)
1 thin slice red onion, finely chopped
2 small garlic cloves or as many as you like, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt or coarse sea salt (Volume: 2.5 ml)

1/2 cup (4 ounces or 120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil or as needed
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice (1/2 large lemon)
Ground black pepper to taste
Fresh hot chili, finely chopped, to taste, optional

1. Rinse the herbs under cool running water and drain. While draining the herbs, make the Red Wine Vinegar mixture. For optimum flavor, pour the red wine vinegar into a small bowl. Add the red onion, garlic cloves, and salt. Marinate together for 20 to 30 minutes while preparing the rest of the ingredients. If you do not believe the power of combining these few ingredients ahead of time, taste the vinegar after marinating. It is delicious, and so much better than simply throwing all ingredients together at the same time into a blender or food processor.

2. Separate the leaves from the stems of the fresh parsley and fresh oregano. Discard the stems or save for another use. Leaves: Either hand chop or process in a machine. Combine the fresh herbs with the Red Wine Vinegar Mixture and stir well. Pour in the olive oil and stir well orprocess to emulsify. Add the fresh lemon juice, black pepper, and chili pepper if including. Stir well or process. Cover and reserve.

Texture: Make Chimichurri Sauce as rustic and coarsely chopped to as refined and emulsified as you like.
By Hand: Chopping by hand controls the texture the best especially for the more rustic style.
By Food Processor, Handheld or Immersion Blender, or Stand Blender: This is the most popular method for making the sauce. Add the parsley and oregano and pulse. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse or chop. Remember: Machines tend to rip and tear apart the leaves, the onion, the garlic, etc. If using a machine and ingredients stick to the sides of the bowl, add some oil and that should loosen them up for processing.

Extra-virgin olive oil or sunflower or grapeseed oil for cooking the cheese
Halloumi cheese, sliced
Parsley Chimichurri Sauce

Bread as the Bun: Avoid soft, soggy hamburger buns.
Ciabatta or country-style bread, sliced

Pour a small amount of oil into a non-stick pan. Or preheat the grill, lightly brush oil on cheese. Over medium heat, cook the cheese for 1 to 2 minutes per side until lightly browned. Meanwhile, toast or grill the bread. Assemble: Place the Lamb Burgers on top of the bread. Place Halloumi cheese on top of the burgers. Pour Chimichurri Sauce over, top with bread. Tuck in.

Note: Initially made during the Medieval Byzantine period, Halloumi or Haloumi cheese remains the traditional cheese of Cyprus. This cheese is made with sheep's milk or combined with goat's milk, then set with rennet. Some companies make this cheese with cow's milk which reduces the cost and changes its character. A staple in the cuisines of Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey, it is very popular in many parts of the Levant and rapidly becoming a much-loved cheese globally.

When young, this firm, white cheese has the freshness of mozzarella and primo sale cheese, with a briny kick similar to mild feta cheese. Often wrapped in fresh or dried mint leaves, Halloumi develops a strong, salty flavor with crumbly texture during aging. With its higher-than-normal melting point, Halloumi cheese is ideal for sauteing, frying, and grilling.

Note in the photo: the cheese has not melted but has softened. It browned in 1 to 2 minutes on each side in a non-stick pan, and held its aroma, taste, and shape during the photo shoot. Better yet, unlike cooking most cheese, clean-up was a breeze! It can even be stored in its own brine and frozen up to one year.





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