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5.30.14 Harissa Lamb Burgers

5.30.14 Harissa Lamb Burgers

In the summer (because we can all agree that it’s finally summer, right?), it’s always important to have a good excuse to bust out the Weber and do a little grilling. As if we need an excuse. If you’re like me, you’ve probably been grilling up plenty of delicious goodies over the past couple of weeks, and well, it’s basically amazing. Now, there are an endless number of things you can throw down on the grill. And while I could go on and on for days about all of the wonderful things I’ve been grilling, I’ll save you some time and just focus on one for today. The burger.

Now I love a good burger. Good being the operative word here. I’ve definitely had some less than stellar burgers in my day. Chewy, dense, overmixed hockey puck burgers (yes, we’ve all been there), burgers that are burned to a crisp, underseasoned burgers - I’ve seen a lot of burgers gone horribly wrong. I’ve also seen a lot go very, very right. And I’ve learned that there are a couple of things that separate a good burger from a not so good one.


First, adding spices to your burger meat is great. But mix them in gently. If you mix too much and too hard, you’re going to end up with a dense chunk of meat on the grill, and not a delicious juicy burger. Second, after shaping your patties, make an indent in the center of the burger with your thumb. This will keep your burger from puffing in the center when you cook it, and you’ll get a nice burger with uniform thickness.

Obviously, the grilling of the burger is of the utmost importance. Season your burger liberally with salt and pepper, throw it on a medium-high heat grill, cook until you get a slight, crispy char, then flip and repeat. Never ever press your burger down with a spatula, or all of that juicy goodness will come oozing right out. And finally, while the burger is the star of the show, its fellow toppings play an important role as well. A good bun, some tasty veggies and condiments, and some high quality cheese (obviously) can elevate your burger to the next level.


Well I don’t know about you, but all this burger talk has made me seriously hungry for one. And if you’re feeling the same, I’ve got just the recipe you need. A twist on your standard burger, this one’s made with ground lamb spiced up with some fiery harissa paste and garlic. Served on a ciabatta roll with fresh goat cheese, cucumber, lemony arugula, and some thinly sliced red onion. That’s one tasty burger. Honestly, you’d probably better go make some right now.

Harissa Lamb Burgers

makes 4

Harissa is a delicious North African condiment made from ground dried chiles, garlic, cumin, and a few other spices. You can buy it premade at most specialty food stores, or you can easily make your own.

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 Tbsp harissa paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • arugula
  • lemon juice
  • 4 ciabatta rolls (I feel like naan or pita bread would also make an awesome bun for this buger)
  • fresh goat cheese ( I love the stuff from Dreamfarm)
  • thinly sliced cucumber
  • thinly sliced red onion

1. Combine ground lamb, harissa paste and minced garlic, gently mixing until just combined.

2. Divide mixture into four ¼ lb pieces. Shape each piece into an approximately 4” patty, making an indent with your thumb in the center of each one.

3. Sprinkle the top of each burger patty liberally with salt and pepper, then place, seasoned side down, on a grill heated to medium high. Cook until bottom begins to brown and crisp up, about 3-4 minutes, then season the uncooked side with salt and pepper, flip, and continue to cook until done, an additional 3-4 minutes.

4. Remove burgers from grill and let them sit for a couple of minutes while you assemble the burger toppings.

5. Toss some arugula with a few tsps of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Spread rolls with goat cheese, top with burgers, cucumber, red onion, and lemony arugula.

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