Greek-Style Lamb Gyro Burgers

For many years our only access to anything resembling Greek food was at the annual Greek Food Festival in Little Rock. I began experimenting with seasonings and recipes to replicate those tastes that we liked so much in pistachio, moussaka and especially gyros with tzaziki. Without the means to recreate authentic gyro meat, the next best thing was a Greek Style Lamb Burger, which I served on pita bread (preferably without pockets). Naan bread is a good substitute.

Since lamb tends to be quite lean, we prefer to mix it with 85 percent grass-fed ground beef, which adds just the right amount of needed fat. We so enjoy these that they have become the preferred recipe for burgers at our house.

greek style lamb gyro burgers dining with debbie

GREEK STYLE LAMB PITA BURGERS

Makes 4 burgers
Preparation time: 30 minutes plus grilling time

Ingredients

  • ½ pound 85 percent grass-fed ground beef
  • ½ pound lean ground lamb
  • 1/3 cup onion, minced
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic, smashed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat feta
  • 1 cup cherry tomato halves
  • 4 ¼-inch slices of onion, grilled
  • Grilled veggies: eggplant, yellow squash, bell peppers as desired
  • Pocketless pita or naan bread

Directions

  1. Heat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high heat.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except feta. Mix well.
  3. Gently knead in the feta and form into patties. Refrigerate until shortly before grilling.
  4. Grill 5-7 minutes per side for burgers that are well done. (We like ours on the rare side.)
  5. Place a burger on a piece of pita or naan bread.* Top with grilled onion and veggies.
  6. Place a dollop of tzatziki sauce on top of the burger and garnish with tomato halves.

*We use half a piece of pita or naan and serve the sandwich open-faced. Use the entire piece if you want a top and bottom “bun.”

TZATZIKI SAUCE

Preparation time: 30 minutes plus 2-3 hours refrigeration
Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup Greek yogurt, drained
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic, smoothed to a paste
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • splash Tabasco, optional
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the salt over the cucumber and allow it to sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Drain well in a sieve and then on paper towels.
  2. In the same small bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, sour cream, roasted garlic, minced garlic, minced onion, lemon juice, Tabasco if using, dill and parsley. Stir well and season to taste with the salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours.

Adapted from: The Food of Our People