RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Spiced Kibbe Burger with Minted Yogurt

When my husband and I first started to date, we would go to our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant once a week for fried kibbe, yogurt (lebnah), and hookah.* This burger is my best interpretation of the kibbe/lebnah combination, which takes us straight down memory lane. *Hookah not included.

Ingredients 

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, shredded, plus
6 small whole leaf clusters for garnish
pinch salt pinch
black pepper, freshly ground
2 pounds ground beef (chuck is best, 80% lean)
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
2 teaspoons allspice, ground
2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons pine nuts, coarsely chopped
vegetable oil, for seasoning grill
6 medium whole wheat hamburger burger buns, split
1 medium cucumber, sliced 1/4" thick
6 leaves red leaf lettuce

Instructions 

Thicken the yogurt: pour the 1 1/2 cups yogurt into a fine mesh strainer (or a regular mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth) placed over a bowl to catch draining liquid. Reserve the remaining 2 tablespoons yogurt for the beef mixture. Refrigerate for up to 2 hours, emptying excess liquid from bowl as necessary. 2. Once thickened, transfer the yogurt to a small bowl. Add the garlic, 3 tablespoons shredded mint leaves, salt and pepper to taste, and refrigerate until needed. 3. Preheat the grill to medium heat. 4. Combine the reserved 2 tablespoons of yogurt, beef, onion, allspice, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and pine nuts, and carefully blend, taking care not to compact. Divide into 6 portions, and shape each portion into a 4½-inch patty (a 4½-inch round cookie cutter or ring mold works best for uniformity). Stack the patties with a sheet of waxed paper between each. 5. Season the grill grate by coating with vegetable oil. Grill the hamburger patties over a medium flame, turning only once, for approximately 6 to 7 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 160°. 6. As the burgers reach doneness, remove from grill to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. 7. While the meat rests, toast the buns cut side down on the grill. 8. To assemble the burgers: place 2 to 3 slices of cucumber on each bottom bun, top with the hamburger patty, a lettuce leaf, 2 to 3 more slices cucumber, dollop approximately 2 tablespoons of minted yogurt, and garnish the yogurt with a small sprig of mint. Place the top bun at a diagonal angle to the rest of the burger.

Comments 

Wine pairing: the first inclination is to pair this with a Cabernet Sauvignon, but Sutter Home's Merlot may have the warm spice tones that this burger wants to honor.