Friday, August 1, 2014

Other Burgers

by Sheila Connolly

Here we are in full summer, and farmers' markets are bursting with goodies. It’s often too hot to cook inside, so across the nation barbecues are turning out wonderful smells of cooking meats, chicken, and even vegetables. Life is good.

But don’t you ever get tired of the same-old-same-old hamburgers and hotdogs? And our government keeps telling us that we have to cook our beef all the way through (per the Food Network, “Because E. coli is killed at 155 degrees Fahrenheit, the USDA sets the minimum safe temperature for ground beef at 160 degrees Fahrenheit. We can only second this.), or risk dire consequences. The pundits on newscasts are saying, literally, “cook your beef until it is gray.” I respect the threat of various nasty bacteria, but I don’t want to eat gray meat. I’d rather do without.

But there are other options! I’m presenting two here, with a nod at Mark Bittman (who puts out too many darned good recipes). You do need a food processor to make these work, unless you really, really love chopping things very fine.

[Disclaimer: these recipes make four burgers. Since it’s only my husband and me around to eat them these days, I made half-recipes, and that’s what the pictures show.]


1-1/2 pounds boneless lamb (whatever cut you can get, or can afford)
1 small onion
1 Tblsp garlic, chopped
2 Tblsp parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim as much fat as you can from the lamb, as well as the “squiggly bits” as my daughter used to call them. Cut the lamb and the onion into coarse chunks (or if you don’t want a strong onion flavor, use shallots). Put everything in the food processor and pulse just until the meat is ground (do not just leave the food processor on or you will end up with lamb paste).

...and after

Shape the meat into burgers and grill, turning once, for 4-8 minutes total. If you like, you can top them with feta cheese.

Or for something completely different: Tunaburgers!

1-1/2 pounds tuna (fresh, not canned!)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp mayonnaise
1 Tblsp capers, drained
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the tuna into large chunks. Put a quarter of the total amount in the food processor along with the mustard, mayonnaise and capers. Process until the mixture becomes pasty (this time you’re supposed to!). Add the rest of the tuna and pulse until the fish is chopped and well mixed (but don’t over-process).

Shape into four burgers. The cooking is a smidge more complicated, because (a) there is no fat in the fish, and (b) you want to cook these quickly over high heat to sear the outside while leaving the inside rare. Brush the burgers with oil and grill over high heat, turning once, about 4-6 minutes total.

This might work well with salmon too—I’ll try that next.

Yes, there's another Orchard Mystery, Picked to Die,  coming out on October 7th, and this one's about Meg's second harvest in Granford (nice timing, debuting in October, right in the middle of the harvest season, don't you think?).

But there may be another ebook sneaking into September: Seeing the Dead, a sequel to Relatively Dead (2013). No cover or blurb yet, so stay tuned!


  1. Yummy burgers! Can I borrow the recipes (with full credit to you) for my secret new WIP?

  2. Nice alternatives. I love lamb.

    1. Me too, but it's hard to get around here, and when it's available, it's flown all the way from New Zealand. At least you can use whatever cut is available for these, as long as you trim it.

  3. I love grilling in the summer, and have grilled all kinds of meats and veggies, but these are two new ideas to try!

  4. I am also bored with same old same old. Thanks for these nifty recipes, Sheila. We'll be trying them soon,

    Yay summer!



  5. A little grocery store near me has a wonderful meat selection. They have lamb burgers and they're delicious!

  6. Fascinating. I gave up on ground chicken and turkey because they throw in too much of the fat when they grind them in the store. But fish burgers! That's brilliant! Must try very soon!

  7. Yum! I adore anything lamb. These look great!

    Thanks, Sheila.

    Daryl / Avery