The Grand Prize winner in the 1991 Build a Better Burger contest gave the All-American burger a bit of international flair. Instead of a classic beef patty between two buns, this winning innovation incorporates ground lamb and uses a pita pocket. The result is “Lamburgers ala Grecque with Cilantro-Mint Chutney.”
I have to admit, I found myself sneaking extra spoonfuls of the outstanding herb-yogurt sauce. It was so full of flavor, I wanted to make sure there was a nice dollop on every single bite!
Robert Chirico created these winning Greek Lamb Burgers. He said, “I like to mix lamb with beef for flavor, and generally add what I would call a moistening agent; my recipe used feta cheese and Kalamata olives to this end. I served it with a cilantro-mint chutney on a special, thick pita made by Father Sam’s Bakery of Buffalo, New York, that I brought with me to Napa Valley.”
That’s a good point to remember when you are creating your entries in Build a Better Burger. If there is a particular ingredient or specific brand that you simply must include in your recipe, the folks at Sutter Home allow you to bring it with you to the cook-off in Napa. In the case of this 1991 winner, maybe those special pitas made all the difference!
Follow this link for more history from the 1991 contest: http://www.buildabetterburger.com/burgers/history#1991
There wasn’t any wine incorporated into this winning burger, so I looked through the Sutter Home collection for an appropriate pairing. I wanted something robust and full bodied to work with the rich lamb flavor. I chose the Zinfandel, but a Merlot would also compliment the dish nicely.
- Cilantro-Mint Chutney:
- ⅓ cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 1½ fresh jalapeño chiles, seeded and chopped
- 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
- ⅓ cup fresh mint leaves
- ¾ cup cilantro leaves
- 1 large garlic clove, chopped
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch of sugar
- 1 pound lean ground lamb
- 1 pound ground sirloin
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ⅓ cup Kalamata olives, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin mixed with 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- Olive oil, for brushing on the grill rack
- 6 thick pita breads
- 6 tomato slices
- 6 thin red onion slices
- 6 red leaf lettuce leaves
- To make the chutney, combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
- Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
- To make the patties, combine the lamb, sirloin, garlic, cheese, olives, and salt in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the pita breads. Brush the patties with the ¼ cup olive oil, then sprinkle with the spice mixture.
- When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with olive oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. During the last few minutes of grilling, place the pita breads on the outer edges of the rack and toast lightly.
- To assemble the burgers, slice off and discard about one-fourth of each pita bread and carefully spread the bread apart to form a pocket. Stuff a patty into each pocket and spoon an equal portion of the chutney over each patty. Add a tomato slice, an onion slice, and a lettuce leaf in each pocket and serve.
Note: There was no Build a Better Burger competition in 1992, as Sutter Home’s marketing department decided to refresh its summer promotion by staging a “Great Grilling Giveaway” sweepstakes instead of the recipe contest. Stay tuned next Friday for the winner in the 1993 contest!
Be sure to check out the 1990 Winner – “Napa Valley Basil-Smoked Burgers“