Monday, 23 August 2010

Moussaka Burgers with Fried Aubergine Slices and Tzatzkiki

Moussaka Burgers with Fried Aubergine Slices and Tzatzkiki

Burgers are pure genius, we all know this. Whether it be a juicy beef patty topped with bacon and cheese or a gorgeous fat veggie burger stacked with onion rings they can be perfectly tailored to anyone's taste. And I really do quite often choose the vegetarian option over the meat, a local Loughborough restaurant called Moomba's do a killer smoked aubergine and chickpea burger with halloumi - bliss!

But as good as a burger can be, I have far too often been disappointed by a greasy, grey, burnt to a crisp beef disc at many a barbecue. At the top of the list of burger fails for me is the minted lamb burger. Don't get me wrong, if this is made from scratch it can be beautiful but the pre-packed ones just never ever get it right... so I had to do something about it.

Moussaka Burgers with Fried Aubergine Slices and Tzatzkiki

As you all know by now I am not the type of lady to do it simply, so rather than just put the mint into the patty itself I have put it in a sauce and fused two of my favourite dishes together to create what I concider one of the best burgers I have ever eaten - the moussaka burger. Seasoning the mince with cinnamon, parmesan, oregano and a little chilli and topping it with a tower of fried aubergine slices, then finishing with a cool slather of homemade cucumbery tzatziki creates pure burger perfection. The only thing missing is the bechamel, which I think would be far too bland as a burger sauce.

Although the fried aubergine slices may make it a little more difficult to serve as a barbecue dish you could always prepare them inside while the lamb burgers are being grilled and bring them out with the tzatziki. It just means you'll be indoors for a few minutes and therefore closer to the fridge full of drinkies and this isn't a bad thing, surely?

Moussaka Burgers with Fried Aubergine Slices and Tzatzkiki

Moussaka Burgers with Fried Aubergine Slices and Tzatzkiki
Serves 4

Moussaka Burger Ingredients
800g fresh minced lamb
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
2 tbsp grated parmesan
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
4 ciabatta bread rolls
1 or 2 ripe beef tomatoes, sliced

Fried Aubergine Slice Ingredients
1 medium aubergine, cut into cm thick slices
lots of salt
100g plain flour

Tzatziki Ingredients
200g greek yoghurt
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and either diced very small or grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Start your barbecue/grill/oven preheating to medium. Take your aubergine slices and lay them on a few sheets of paper towel, then sprinkle liberally with salt on both sides. Put these to one side while you prepare the burger patties.

Put the minced lamb into a bowl, sprinkle over all the herbs and spices and mix thoroughly with your hands. No-one wants to hit a big spice pocket in their burger so make sure everything is really well combined. Divide the mixture into four equal size balls and shape them into nice round patties, making a little indentation into the middle of each one - this stops the center bulging up and making the top bun topple off. Cover the four burgers with cling film and set aside in the fridge.

Next take your aubergine slices and press them into the flour, coating both sides and tapping off any excess. Place them back on to the paper towels and leave to settle while you make the tzatziki by combining the yoghurt with the diced cucumber, crushed garlic, mint, lemon juice and paprika. Cover with cling film and put into the fridge to develop it's flavour.

Pour olive oil into a heavy based saucepan until it is around half a cm deep and put on the hob to heat up until the oil starts to shimmer and smoke a little. Take your aubergine slices, dredge again with the flour and tap off the excess and then place in the hot oil to fry. They need 1-2 minutes on each side until they get a crispy golden coating. You'll need to do this in batches, when they are done remove them back on to the paper towels to remove any excess oil.

Cook your patties on one side of the grill and lightly toast the buns on the other. The burgers will take between 2-4 minutes on each side depending how thick you have made them. Basically, you want an even colour throughout and for the juices to run clear when poked.

Lay a few tomato slices on the bottom half of the bun, top with the lamb burger and slather over some tzatziki. Add a few slices of fried aubergine and the top half of the ciabatta roll and serve with some roasted new potatoes and a few salads of your choice - I recommend some sort of lemon and coriander cous cous concoction.

Moussaka Burgers with Fried Aubergine Slices and Tzatzkiki

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