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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

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