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Turkish Lamb Pita Burgers

May/June 2008

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Heavy on exotic spices, this decadent sandwich is a great way to familiarize yourself with the joys of Turkish cooking. Lean turkey blended with lamb lightens the mix. Stuff the patties into warm pita bread or roll the mixture into meatballs and serve with the yogurt sauce on the side as an hors d'oeuvre.


Turkish Lamb Pita Burgers Recipe

Makes: 6 servings

Active Time:

Total Time:

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup bulgur, (see Ingredient Note)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
  • 3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt, preferably Greek (see Ingredient Note)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallion greens
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 2 cups diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces ground lamb
  • 4 ounces 93%-lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 6 whole-wheat pita breads, warmed

Preparation

  1. Combine bulgur and water in a small bowl; let stand until the water is absorbed and the bulgur is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain any excess liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, heat coriander and cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until they begin to pop and are fragrant and lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Scrape into a small bowl to cool, then crush in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
  3. Combine 2 teaspoons of the spice mixture with yogurt, scallion greens, 2 tablespoons parsley, mint, oregano, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Combine tomato, red onion and oil in another small bowl.
  5. Preheat broiler (see Grilling Variation). Coat a broiler pan with cooking spray.
  6. Place the reserved bulgur, the remaining spice mixture, the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and the remaining 1 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add lamb, turkey, yellow onion, egg, garlic, cayenne, salt, allspice and cinnamon. Gently combine, without overmixing, until evenly incorporated. Form into 12 equal balls, then form each into an oval patty about 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Place the patties on the prepared broiler pan. Broil, turning once, until browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F, 8 to 10 minutes total.
  8. Slice open the warmed pita breads. Fill with 2 burgers, about 1/3 cup tomato mixture and 2 generous tablespoons yogurt sauce each. Grilling Variation: To grill the lamb patties, preheat a grill to medium-high. Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the patties, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F, 8 to 10 minutes total.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Store the toasted spices (Step 2) in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Cover and refrigerate the yogurt sauce (Step 3) for up to 3 days.
  • Ingredient Notes:
  • Bulgur is made by parboiling, drying and coarsely grinding or cracking wheat berries. Don't confuse bulgur with cracked wheat, which is simply that—cracked wheat. Since the parboiling step is skipped, cracked wheat must be cooked for up to an hour whereas bulgur simply needs a quick soak in hot water for most uses. Look for it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets, near other grains, or online at kalustyans.com, lebaneseproducts.com.
  • Greek-style yogurt is made by removing the whey from cultured milk. Removing the whey gives it an extra thick and creamy texture—making it the perfect ingredient for a lower-fat dessert topping. You can strain regular yogurt to make it thick like Greek-style yogurt. Line a sieve with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. (Alternatively, use a coffee filter lined with filter paper.) Spoon in 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt and let it drain in the refrigerator until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 2 hours.
  • Tip: To oil the grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.) When grilling delicate foods like tofu and fish, it is helpful to spray the food with cooking spray.

Nutrition

Per serving: 546 calories; 20 g fat (6 g sat, 9 g mono); 102 mg cholesterol; 60 g carbohydrates; 32 g protein; 11 g fiber; 653 mg sodium; 487 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (33% daily value), Zinc (21% dv), Vitamin A (22% dv), Iron (15% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 3

Exchanges: 3 starch, 1 vegetable, 3 lean meat, 1 fat



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Recipe Categories

Servings
6
Main Ingredient
Turkey
Preparation/ Technique
Broil
Grill/BBQ
Ethnic/Regional
Middle Eastern
Health & Diet Considerations
High fiber
High potassium
Meal/Course
Dinner

Ease of Preparation
Moderate
Total Time
1 hour or less
Publication
May/June 2008

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