It used to be when you ordered a burger you knew what you were getting: ground beef on a bun, cheese (preferably highly processed and day-glo orange) optional. But things aren’t so simple any more. Now we’ve got buffalo burgers, venison, turkey, elk, salmon, veggie – even kangaroo – all taking on the burger mantle.


Is that a bad thing? Heck no. If some foodie fuddy-duddies want to get all purist about it, then let them. They can argue that the only real burger is a hamburger (funny, don’t remember any ham in a burger…). It doesn’t mean we have to follow suit.

Because the fact is, the alternatives are pretty darn tasty. I’ll talk turkey in a future post but for now let us turn our eyes and mouth to lamb. Lamb makes an awesome burger. It’s got a distinctive taste that handles frying (or grilling) beautifully and marries well with assertive spices. And at the Chile Trail, we love assertive.

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to seasoning, but for this recipe, we’ve come up with a killer combo of Southwestern meets Middle Eastern. The resulting burgers are moist, full of flavor and disturbingly addictive. We make them small then serve them on a corn tortilla with roasted peppers, arugula and a dollop of hummus. But you know, go crazy – slap it on a flat bread or pita, put it on a bun, crumble some feta cheese on top. At the Chile Trail if it tastes great then it’s never wrong.

 Spicy Lamb Burgers

Serves 3-4

I roast my own peppers because it’s so easy and the taste is awesome. I like to use long, mild peppers. Give them a rinse, then slice them into quarters lengthways. Remove the seeds and membrane. Toss in olive oil with some S&P and roast them in a hot oven. If you’re time pressed, go for a jar. I won’t tell.

1 lb. ground lamb
2 scallions, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp ancho chile powder
½ tsp cayenne or more to taste
½ tsp cinnamon

To accompany:
• Arugula
• Roasted red peppers
• Hummus
• Corn tortillas or flat bread

Grind the spices in a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Feel free to use already ground spices if you want but the flavor won’t be quite as intense and fresh. Add to the lamb along with the scallions and lemon zest. Mix gently – you don’t want to overwork the lamb. Shape into small patties – about the size of silver dollars.


Heat a frying pan and add the lamb patties being careful not to overcrowd. Cook the patties over medium heat for a few minutes on each side and serve hot with accompaniments.