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The Ultimate Lebanese Burger

I love Middle Eastern food, in particular, the food of Lebanon. The national dish of Lebanon is something called kibbeh, which is a mixture of beef, bulghur wheat, pine nuts, onions, and assorted spices. So, that is what I make my patty out of. That is then topped with something called Muhammara, which is a roasted red pepper and walnut and pomegranate spread that is also very popular in Lebanon. Then you add some cucumbers topped with za’atar spices which is the most predominant spice combination in the region. Put all of that on a sesame seed bun and you have created a dish that truly encapsulates the Lebanon; it is the Ultimate Lebanese Burger.

Ingredients 

1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 English cucumber, 1/4-inch thick slices on the diagonal
2 teaspoons za’atar seasoning
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 cup fine grind bulghur wheat, soaked in 1/2 cup warm water for 30 minutes, drained
1/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 sesame seed buns, split

Instructions 

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make Red Pepper Spread, in the bowl of a food processor combine red peppers, walnuts, pomegranate molasses, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil; puree. Set aside.

To make Za’atar Cucumbers, place cucumbers in a small mixing bowl. Sprinkle with za’atar; toss to cover cucumbers evenly with za’atar seasoning.

To make the patties, combine the beef, bulghur wheat, onion, pine nuts, cumin, allspice, salt, and pepper 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 buns.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, just until done, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, spread a generous amount of Red Pepper Spread on the cut sides of the buns. On each bun bottom, place a patty and an equal amount of Za’atar Cucumbers. Add the bun tops and serve.