Australia Day Barbecue Lamb Burgers with Hummus and Tzatziki
Australia Day on Thursday, 26 January 2012, is a day for Australians to celebrate what makes our country great. What are your plans for the day, friends? Will you spend the day on the beach or out in the bush by a river somewhere? Perhaps you will attend one of the many Australia Day festivities in your local region or simply gather with family and friends at your favourite restaurant. Weather permitting, we plan to light the barbecue and Peter will cook one of our favourite Summertime lunches.
In The History of Food, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat refers to a myth of the Chilouk people: 'There was a time when no-one yet knew fire. People used to heat their food in the sun, and the men ate the upper part of the food, cooked in this way, while the women ate the underneath which was still uncooked'. Toussaint-Samat says this is not a sign of male chauvinism, but a metaphor of the sexual symbolism of fire. Although it has not been proven how, where or by whom fire was first domesticated, discoveries of piles of bones and organic ash in fossilised charcoal indicate that man has been cooking food over hot coals since ancient times. Curiously, this slow cooking over a smoky fire business we call 'barbecue' has remained a job for blokes-although, thankfully the women no longer get the raw bits!
According to Mark Thomson in Meat, Metal and Fire, a book in which he peers through the smoke of time and investigates the legendary Aussie barbie, 'before the word barbecue came into common usage in Australia, "chop picnic" meant much the same thing'. Thomson says the term 'barbecue' was known but not used in Australia until the arrival of American troops in the second world war. Barbecues are considered to be very Australian and we've come a long way from blackened hunks of meat on a fireplace. With the range of fresh produce available, a barbecue can be anything from a steak on Italian focaccia with a piquant sauce to Korean beef ribs, or Tandoori-style chicken, a smorgasbord of seafood, smoky chargrilled capsicum and eggplant, or lamb koftas with hummus and tzatziki.
Speaking of which, the recipe I am sharing with you for Australia Day is my version of Spicy Lamb Burgers with Hummus and Tzatziki. I have adapted the recipe from book two of the very popular CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet by Drs Manny Noakes & Peter Clifton. I prefer to make my own hummus and always use lamb mince from butcher/farmer Ian Wright of Inglebrae Homestead Meats. More than simply 'rissiles' (remember that scene from The Castle?), I think these burgers with the hummus and tzatziki reflect the diversity of our Australian cuisine. Finish your Australia Day lunch with a slice of Pavlova. Happy Australia Day!
LAMB BURGERS WITH HUMMUS AND TZATZIKI
For the lamb patties:
500g lean lamb mince
1 eschallot, finely chopped
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1/3 cup coriander, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Good quality bread rolls or gluten free bread of your choice
garden fresh baby Cos lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
garden fresh tomato, sliced
To make the lamb patties, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use. Just before cooking, form the mince into flat round hamburger patties and place onto a platter that you have sprayed lightly with olive oil. Cook on a preheated barbecue or grill, about six to eight minutes each side, until cooked through.
Note on the first photograph: it is not easy to make a burger look sexy! I have a healthy new respect for food photographers, such as the wonderful Alan Benson.
500g can chickpeas
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup good EVOO
4 tablespoons Tahini
juice of 2-3 lemons
sprinkle of paprika
To make the hummus, drain the chickpeas, then rinse and drain in a colander. Combine the chickpeas, garlic, EVOO, Tahini and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until well combined. If the mixture is very chunky or dry, add more lemon juice (to taste) or a little water. Process until nice and smooth. Set aside to chill until ready to use. Makes 2 cups.
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
1-2 Lebanese cucumbers*
1/3 cup fresh mint
To make the tzatziki, slice the cucumbers in half lengthways and remove the seeds using a teaspoon. Dice the cucumber flesh and chop the mint. Combine the yoghurt, cucumber and mint in a bowl. Set aside and chill until ready to use. *Use fresh, thin-skinned cucumbers. Wash them before use.
To assemble the burgers, spread a good dollop of hummus onto each bread bun, place a couple of baby Cos lettuce leaves onto the bread, then sliced tomato, then the lamb pattie and a splodge of tzatziki. Serve immediately. Serves 4-5.
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