Hold the mayo, not the flavor: Grilled Lamb Feta Burgers get boost from Light Rémoulade Sauce

by Terry B on June 2, 2010

Grilled Lamb Feta Burgers are made even more flavorful with a lightened rémoulade sauce that substitutes Greek yogurt and olive oil for mayonnaise. Recipes below.

lamb-feta-burger

I remember feeling all grown up and adventurous the first time I ate feta cheese. Of course, I was in college at the time, and just about everything that didn’t make me feel idiotic, overwhelmed and scared made me feel grown up and adventurous.

If anything, my first experience with feta made me feel all of those things at once. This cheese didn’t come wrapped in individual slices, and it was decidedly not what was, to my then culinarily naive ears, comfortingly called ‘American.’ Most daunting of all, you couldn’t find it in the supermarket (at least not the ones of my college days). When a friend announced she was going to try a recipe that required the exotic substance, I was assigned the challenge of finding some.

I found it, of course, in a bustling, olive-filled Greek deli, the kind of place food lovers happily seek out and cherish when they find it. At the time, though, this cheerful, noisy place only underscored my white-bread upbringing and utter lack of any culinary sophistication whatever. Still, I managed to escape unscathed with a nice square chunk of feta in hand and a peek into a new to me world.

Feta has long since lost its adventurous quality to me, but not its appeal. What was once a glamorous alien flavor to me is now dependably tangy, briny and mild. It’s also one of the oldest cheeses around. Some place its origin during the Byzantine Empire; others claim Homer wrote of it in the 8th century BC. The traditional Greek curd cheese is made of sheep or goat milk (although outside of Greece, some of it is now made with pasteurized cow milk) and aged in brine.

In addition to more traditional uses, feta has been finding its way into burgers for some time. So when I decided to grill some lamb burgers for the Memorial Day weekend, adding Greek cheese to a meat much favored by Grecian cooks was a given.

Rémoulade is a versatile sauce invented by the French. By adding different herbs and flavorings, its big flavor can be adapted to complement a whole host of meats, seafood and even vegetables. Traditionally, its base is mayonnaise, lots of it. The lively taste of rémoulade appealed to me for these burgers—the half cup of mayonnaise many recipes called for did not. Since I was going with Greek ingredients already, I decided to swap a mix of olive oil and nonfat Greek yogurt for the mayo. They worked just fine, thank you.

Grilled Lamb Feta Burgers with Light Rémoulade
Serves 4

1/3 cup minced parsley
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon capers, minced
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 pound ground lamb
generous 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 burger buns or rolls

Prepare the rémoulade. Combine the first six ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. The parsley, garlic and capers should be minced as finely as possible. You can use a mini food processor to make the rémoulade, but a good sharp knife and a little patience will do a beautiful job. Cover with plastic and store in the fridge. Can be made a day ahead—make at least a few hours ahead to let the flavors combine.

Make the burgers. Prepare or preheat your grill. Mix ground lamb and crumbled feta in a bowl until just combined. Handle the meat as little and as gently as possible, or your burgers will be tough. Form into 4 patties. Season on both sides with salt (use a light hand—the feta and remoulade will provide plenty of flavor) and a generous grinding of pepper.

When the grill is ready, brush it with oil and quickly grill the buns cut side down for a minute or so. Transfer buns to a plate. Grill the lamb feta burgers for about 4 minutes per side, turning once (or to desired doneness—grilling is an inexact science, at least as practiced by me). If you get flare ups, gently move burgers away from flames. Transfer burgers to a plate and tent with foil. Let them rest for about 5 minutes as you prepare buns. Spread 1/4 of the rémoulade on the bottom half of each bun. Top with burger and bun and serve.


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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) June 2, 2010 at 5:19 am

I’ve never had ground lamb, but that sounds delicious. I love taking an old favorite and making it into something new and exciting.

Jenn

The French June 2, 2010 at 6:06 am

I love feta. Sometimes I feel like Holly Hunter in “Raising Arizona” when I think about feta, “I…love…it…so…much.” This sounds delightful:)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) June 2, 2010 at 11:25 am

When I recently posted a recipe for turkey burgers with Greek yogurt in the burger and feta in the sauce, readers suggested substituting lamb for the turkey. We’re all thinking the same thing — that lamb, feta and yogurt go well together!

Kayla June 2, 2010 at 1:34 pm

About a year ago, I moved to southern Louisiana. Remoulade is a staple here for lots of dishes-even mixed with chilis and used as a salad dressing! I will definitely have to try this Greek version!

Terry B June 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Jenn—We love ground lamb! It makes great burgers, even cooked indoors on a grill pan. Sometimes we press a little fresh rosemary into the surface of the burgers before cooking and sometimes we just use salt and pepper. If you’re watching your carbs, lamb burgers are flavorful enough that you can skip the bun and not miss it.

Thanks, the French! We have some feta left over from our burger adventures. Any ideas?

Lydia—Great minds think alike (and so do ours).

Kayla—You are in the heart of a whole mess of interesting cuisines down there. I’m looking forward to seeing how it shapes your cooking.

altadenahiker June 2, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Oh, yeah. The Armenian store in my city sells three different kinds of feta: Greek, French, and something else, so I always have some handy. But feta and lamb burgers, that’s inspired!

Terry B June 2, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Thanks, Altadenahiker! And you reminded me of something I meant to mention. Many countries produce feta cheese—Germany, Denmark, France and Great Britain, to name a few (well, four). But in 2005, the European Union’s highest court ruled that feta is a traditional Greek product whose name deserves protection. So now in Europe, countries who make a fetalike cheese must call it by another name when they sell it there.

Nick (Macheesmo) June 2, 2010 at 4:27 pm

I had a similar situation with Feta… definitely didn’t have it growing up and now I pass it off as an everyday thing. It’s funny how our individual food cultures change like that.

There really is nothing like a hunk of good briny feta. Oh and obviously, great looking burger!

Christine June 3, 2010 at 1:45 am

That remoulade has definitely caught my fancy! I love how you’ve paired the feta and the ground lamb and will try it as soon as it stops raining long enough to bring out the grill.

Terry B June 3, 2010 at 3:23 am

Nick—And now feta is not only an everyday thing, but one of the less adventurous cheeses we eat! I love what an exciting time this is for food.

Thanks, Christine! If you get bored while waiting for the rain to stop, these burgers would cook up beautifully with a grill pan too.

altadenahiker June 3, 2010 at 3:33 am

Shhh, then my local store is breaking international law. (The Greek feta is by far the best, anyway.)

Dani H June 3, 2010 at 5:07 am

Oooh! Yum! This sounds absolutely scrumptious, Terry. And your leftover Feta? I love it sprinkled in scrambled eggs ~ I don’t add it until the eggs are about half-way cooked. That’s also when I like to add diced tomatoes. I’m not big on salt, so if using Feta, I only pepper the eggs. I hope you and Marion have a lovely summer.

Duchess June 3, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Yumm! Ok, must try these!

Katie@Cozydelicious June 4, 2010 at 2:10 am

I love lamb burgers, so much flavor! And this remoulade sounds fantastic. I bet it would be great on almost any sandwich. Yum!

Terry B June 4, 2010 at 3:31 am

My lips are sealed, Altadenahiker.

Eggs with feta sound perfect, Dani. Thanks! I’m thinking we’ll try this on the weekend.

Thanks, Dani!

Actually, Katie, I whipped up some of the rémoulade tonight to have with purchased crab cakes—it was great.

Cynthia Fox-Giddens June 7, 2010 at 12:19 am

A delicious dish and I have acquired a taste for Feta. I can just take a bite right out of that burger. Oh yeah, it’s a picture :-) Great post!

katrina June 7, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Wow, does this look and sound gooood. I much prefer lamb burgers over beef, and with that great remoulade sauce? Even better! Thanks so much -

Carrie Oliver June 13, 2010 at 4:41 pm

We made these lamb burgers last night and they were delicious. It was interesting that the feta took some of the bite out of the lamb, which had a pretty adventurous personality on its own. Thanks for the recipe.

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