Feta-stuffed lamb burgers: A Greek-inspired dinner perfect for the barbecue

The cheese’s salty tang is ideal with lamb, making the flavours come alive on the grill

Delicious: feta-stuffed lamb burgers

Delicious: feta-stuffed lamb burgers

 

It’s safe to say that barbecue season is now in full swing. Even more so now that the garden is the place to be for socially distant gatherings. We need food that is quick to prepare ahead of time, that can be cooked with minimum fuss, so that we can prioritise chatting and catching up.

The past few weeks, for me, have been about carefully planning my shopping and cooking, something I’ve always tried to do. I’m no longer popping into supermarkets for single items, but rather doing a weekly or fortnightly shop, and picking up everything else I need online.

NeighbourFood has been revolutionary, bringing my local farmers’ markets online and enabling local producers to sell directly once more. Even though most markets are now up and running again, it’s a fantastic option for midweek, easy food shopping, especially when you have a few children in tow.

Cuskinny Court, our local market here in Cobh, has only just opened, but is already proving to be a huge success, with local businesses providing everything from vegetables to baked goods.There are now more than 50 NeighbourFood markets nationwide including Galway, Dublin, Killarney and several in Cork, to name but a few. Do check out their website, neighbourfood.ie, to see if there’s one in your area.

The last time I was in Greece, we spent two weeks eating in different little cafes and family run restaurants. Every day I tasted a different version of tzatziki, the Greek salad of cucumber, yoghurt, garlic and herbs. Some added mint, some just dill, garlic levels fluctuated and the texture of the cucumber varied too. The consistency ranged from thick creamy dill flecked spreads to looser dips. Ever since, I’ve loved tzatziki and always rustle up a version of it when we have lamb.

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Aside from being easy to make, versatile and delicious, it’s a great way to increase your intake of probiotics by folding the grated cucumber through creamy Irish yoghurt. I love yoghurt and this time of year it really shines. Lighter and healthier than mayonnaise, it’s ideal for slaws of all sorts, as well as dips and dressings.

I stir a little tahini and pomegranate molasses through it for a delicious drizzle for roasted aubergine. Adding toasted sunflower seeds or almonds for texture is good too. The tzatziki will last in the fridge for a few days. I usually drizzle a little olive oil over the top before serving. It’s perfect with these lamb burgers instead of the usual coleslaw or mayonnaise. 

There are plenty of Irish-made feta-style cheeses available from the likes of Toonsbridge, Ardsallagh and St Tola. Genuine feta is usually made in Greece from sheep or a mixture of sheep and goat milk. It’s salty tang is ideal with lamb. I love the flavour from lamb and it works so well when barbecued, needing only a little salt or a squeeze of lemon to really amplify its great taste.   

FETA-STUFFED LAMB BURGERS

Serves four

560g minced lamb 
1 egg
Salt and black pepper 
1 tsp Dijon mustard 
1 tsp dried or 2 tsp fresh dill 
Zest from ½ lemon 
50g crackers, crushed 
150g block feta, divided into four squares 
4 brioche buns 
To serve: salad, tzatziki 

Method

1 Place the lamb, egg, mustard, dill, lemon zest and crushed crackers in a bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix till combined.

2 Divide the meat mixture into four, shape into balls and flatten each one with the palm of your hand. Place a little block of feta into the centre of each then gather up the sides and fold the mince mixture over the cheese to ensure it’s enclosed.

3 Leave the burgers to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes before cooking on barbecue, or frying pan or griddle. Serve in the toasted brioche buns right away once cooked, so that the cheese is still soft inside.

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