Where does the crossover between a slider and a burger occur?
For the record, I fully intended these to be sliders, but at a diameter slightly bigger than the palm of my hand, the question did arise. NOT that it matters at all because these were kick-you-in-the-face-good. Born of a midnight craving, these sliders are densely spiced with all the best flavors that go with lamb - cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne... and smoked paprika, there for the purpose of ruining alliteration and giving a smoky kick. And while I love a good lettuce-tomato-onion cheeseburger, I thought peaches and spinach stood up better to the punch of the lamb.
A word on these midnight cravings: I am super prone to them. My workplace has huge lunch buffets that tests my self-resolve daily (I lose) and sends me into a stupor for the whole afternoon. Following this overindulgence, I crawl back home and go on a run. I'll usually have a small one-bowl meal for dinner, since I actually don't immediately crave food post-exercise. But a few hours after I've gone to bed, I awaken with my metabolism in full swing, stomach and brain colluding to torment me with random recipe ideas. Hence, the summer slider (as well as a lot of flops, relegated to Recipe Graveyard) came to be. I generally indulge my overactive imagination for a few minutes while stuffing my face with cashews on hand... anyway, moving on...
Not really present in the midnight craving and more driven by leftovers from lunch: I snuck a good amount of red quinoa into the lamb mix which ended up not having any impact on flavor or texture. So not only were my sliders crossing over into burger territory, but my patties were attempting to masquerade as superfoods! In any case, the trend of sneaking health foods into typically indulgent meals is much less irritating than the alternative, which is disguising something that is really unhealthy / junky as a health food. Although where does a whole wheat chocolate chip cookie fall in this spectrum? (Which I have never made, by the way, and I never intend to. I like cookies with integrity!)
Maybe I have lower standards of what counts as clean eating, but I felt this was a relatively guilt-free alternative to a standard hamburger meal - what really gets you in trouble are the aolis, ketchup, side of fries, boozey milkshakes, and sodas. NONE of which these slider-burgers need whatsoever; they really do stand on their own, and anything extra would be redundant. Perfectly juicy and pink-centered lamb with a cast-iron sear, with firm peachy sweetness to support and balance the wallop of spices... all precariously balanced atop a bed of crisp greens. Need I say more?
Lamb Sliders (serves 2 for a meal, more for snacking)
These were quite aggressively spiced, which I loved but you can feel free to cut back on.
- Six slider buns (recipe below)
- 0.75 lbs ground lamb
- 1/3 cup cooked red quinoa
- Half onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, diced finely
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 0.5 tsp smoked paprika
- 0.5 tsp cayenne
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- One peach, sliced thinly
- Baby spinach
Grind the coriander and cumin seeds into powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Mix with cinnamon, paprika, cayenne.
In a medium pan over medium-high heat, heat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Stir in the spice mix and cook until fragrant and until a paste begins to form. Lower the heat to medium low and add in the diced onion, coating them with the paste. Cook until they begin to caramelize and are fragrant (5 min), but no need to wait until fully translucent. Set aside and let cool.
In a large bowl, mix together (cooled) quinoa and lamb mix, along with the cooled onion/spice paste. Use your hands for this to prevent overmixing and ensure even distribution of the flavoring. Form into six small patties, one inch thick, and refrigerate for at least one hour to let the flavors develop.
Heat olive oil over high heat in a cast iron pan until shimmering, then gently place the patties in - they will be delicate since the quinoa and onions will prevent the meat from binding as well. Sear for 4 minutes on each side, flipping only once.
Assemble the burgers: bun, spinach, lamb, sliced peaches, bun! Let rest for 5 minutes before diving in.
Slider Buns (makes 6)
- 1.75 cups of flour
- 0.5 cups of water
- 2 tsp yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 eggs (one for the dough, one for egg wash)
- 1 tbsp butter, very soft
- 1 tsp salt
- Sesame seeds (optional)
Combine yeast, sugar, and water and let stand for 10 minutes, or until frothy. Add to large bowl with flour, and add in one egg, softened butter, and salt. Mix until a sticky dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough feels like it sticks more to itself and less to your hands; be patient and try not to over-add the flour. Once this stage is reached, form into a round ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl, turning the ball so that oil coats all sides (so it doesn't stick when it rises). Let rise until doubled in a warm, draft-free area, around 1 hour.
Punch out the gas after this has doubled and knead a few more times, Then, divide into six pieces. Shape into small balls: round rolls are made by stretching the top of your dough lump and bringing it to the bottom, moving in a circle around the lump and sealing the bottom. Think "tuck-and-turn". This tutorial is helpful.
Cover and proof - let stand for 30 more minutes or up to an hour until the dough balls have doubled again, in a draft-free space. While waiting, preheat the oven and place a pan of water in the bottom of the oven - this will create a steamy environment that will help your bread crust a little.
Beat an egg and brush over the rolls; cover generously with sesame seeds.
Bake for 20-22 minutes at 375 degrees.