Log In / Join Now

8 & $20: Lamb Burgers and a French Red

A Rhône red is a perfect match for a quickie version of a French classic

Jennifer Fiedler
Posted: February 8, 2011

Eight ingredients. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a weeknight feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our new feature, "8 & $20." We hope it adds pleasure to your table.

There is, perhaps, no dish more ideally suited to a snow day than famed cookbook author Richard Olney’s gigot à la ficelle: A leg of lamb stuffed with garlic and thyme, then strung up over a wood-burning fireplace and left to cook while rotating slowly from the string. Stoking a fire for hours is hardly average Tuesday-night material though, so we borrowed the ingredient list as inspiration to come up with this super fast dinner. Cayenne goes with ground lamb for pan-grilled burgers; garlic and thyme get added to mayonnaise for a cheater’s version of aioli, and everything gets sandwiched between toasted English muffins. To round out the plate, we added a peppery arugula salad for some brightness in both flavor and color.

For a wine, we found that the Côtes du Rhône below worked the best out of the wines we tried, but a Chianti and a Rioja that we opened were strong contenders too. What you want is something juicy and a little spicy with a strong spine that can cut through the rich flavors.

Lamb Burgers with Herbed Aioli on English Muffins

Pair with: A red Côtes du Rhône such as Domaine de la Berthéte Côtes du Rhône Sensation 2009 (88 points, $13)

Total Time: 25 minutes
Approximate Food Cost: $24

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 springs of thyme, minced
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 whole-wheat English muffins, halved
  • 5 to 6 cups baby arugula greens
  • 4 tablespoons fresh goat cheese, crumbled

1. In a large bowl, gently mix the ground lamb, cayenne pepper and some salt and pepper to taste. Form four balls from the mixture, then flatten each to 3/4 of an inch. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan over high heat, then add the patties and cook until medium-rare, about 3 minutes a side.

2. In the meantime, toast the English muffin halves and mix the garlic, thyme and mayonnaise together. When the patties are done, assemble the burgers with a generous spread of the mayonnaise mixture.

3. Toss the arugula and goat cheese with olive oil and salt, and maybe a splash of vinegar or lemon juice if you have some on hand, and divide between four plates alongside the burgers. Serves 4

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.