Week 2 Finalists: Your Best Burger

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Recipe 1: Lamb Burgers with Cilantro Yogurt by naomi

These burgers are simple yet spot on. Naomi calls for ground lamb, which makes for a sumptuous burger requiring nothing more than a bit of salt and pepper. The tang of the cilantro yogurt sauce cuts the richness, keeping the lamb from tasting gamey. We shaved the garlic using a Microplane grater, which dispersed its bite evenly throughout the yogurt and provided a more intense garlic flavor - if you decide to do the same, keep in mind you will only need one clove of garlic. We also added a large pinch of salt to the yogurt and served the burgers on toasted hamburger buns.





One of the best parts of this recipe is how simple it is - 5 ingredients!

Amanda roughly chops the cilantro while Merrill measures the yogurt. As the recipe states, whole milk yogurt is best, both for texture and for the taste!

We got this gorgeous, young garlic at the farmers' market.

Amanda was surprised at how fresh it smelled. And she also finally put to rest her theory that Merrill is actually a vampire.

The recipe said to finely chop or press the garlic, but we thought we'd try grating it on the Microplane. This way, the garlic really gets to shine through - full taste, without the unfortunate possibility of biting into a chunk of garlic. We ended up using just one clove, as grating it really gets the most out of a single clove, but you should taste it as you go. Also keep in mind that as the yogurt sits, the flavors get more complex.

After we mixed in the garlic and the cilantro, we seasoned it pretty aggressively with salt. This yogurt is delicious - and definitely worth trying on other things as well!

You'll want to season the lamb patties fairly aggressively as well. We made ours about 1" thick, and thought that next time we might go slightly thinner...

Merrill is a grill master.

We started with a very hot grill, which allows for a nice crust to form on the burgers.

As the burgers cooked, we moved the patties to the outer, cooler, edges of the grill, which allowed the insides to cook gently without burning the gorgeous crust we'd gotten.

As soon as the burgers were done (we got ours to just barely medium, and they were perfectly juicy), and the buns were toasted, we added the yogurt, and enjoyed!


Not for wimps, this burger has layers of flavor -- and heat. Tom Kelly recommends a sweet-spicy glaze that caramelizes as the beef patties sizzle on the grill, and his crunchy slaw gets fierier as it sits. We initially thought the goat cheese might be overkill, but when it softened and began to melt, it blended with the slaw to mitigate some of the spice. We used 1/2 cup mayo and only one chipotle for the slaw and added a generous pinch of salt. We also found that the recipe made enough glaze and slaw for at least 8 burgers. If you're fresh out of blood orange vinegar like we were, you can substitute 2 tablespoons orange juice and 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar.


The ingredients! We couldn't find blood orange vinegar, so decided to use white wine vinegar and orange juice instead. It worked beautifully.

Instead of hand cutting the cabbage, we decided to shave it on a mandoline to get evenly shredded pieces. We thought that the slaw would be easier to work with on the burger if it was finer, and we were pleased with the results. You could also shave it like this using an attachment on your food processor. Or, if you have some sick skills, you could use a knife to get it this thin.

Mixing the dressing. We fiddled with the measurements a bit, and ended up with: 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup high quality mayo, and just 1 chipotle pepper. We also salted to taste. We found this amount of dressing left the cabbage evenly coated, but not gloppy.

On to the glaze! To start, we halved the recipe, but found that even that produced far more glaze than we needed. (Indeed, it probably would have been ample glaze for 8-10 burgers). So, we recommend either making this with the knowlege that it'll keep you in glazed burgers for a few weeks (you'd want to avoid any cross contamination with raw meat if you were planning on using it over the course of multiple grilling sessions), or cutting the recipe down further.

Mincing chipotle peppers, both for the glaze and for the slaw. These little peppers pack quite the smoky punch! But it's perfect for cutting through some of the richness of the burger.


Like the lamb burgers, we seasoned these aggressively and made them into roughtly 1" thick patties. Next time, we'd make them slightly thinner.

Tom reccomended glazing the burgers 4 times throughout cooking. We just glazed them every time we flipped them and could taste that they'd gotten a little extra love on the grill. Like the lamb burgers, we started them off over really hot coals, and then moved them onto cooler bits of the grill to keep them from burning or drying out on the edges.

We topped each burger with two rounds of goat cheese, roughtly 1/2' thick. While we covered the grill and left them to melt for a few minutes, the cheese never got fully gooey. However, it melted enough to warm through and ooze into the slaw a bit.

Burger, cheese, slaw- delicious!