Cooking with cherries: Lamb, cherry and feta burgers
Cooking with cherries
Many moons ago, I tried the Atkins diet.
I did lose weight but as with all fad diets, the weight definitely crept back within a few months. One take-away from that episode in my life was certainly never to try fad diets again, but some of the recipes and techniques I researched did gave me plenty of food for thought (sorry, terrible puns I know but I couldn’t help it, LOL).
I remember one idea for dieters was to add cherries to burgers so one could bulk up a meat dish and reduce meat intake at the same time. The recipe (I can’t find it anymore) was to make beef burgers with ground cherries added to it.
I never tried that recipe when I was on the ‘Fatkins’ die but I’d always wanted to and so a few months ago, I finally did. It’s only appearing on the blog now as it’s been sitting on my desktop waiting to be typed up.
If you think about it, it’s hardly unusual to bulk up burgers. I personally love grating a carrot (and squeezing out as much juice as possible) before mixing it in with my beef burgers (it’s a trick an old friend taught me years ago) – I find the carrot adds natural sugar and taste; most of the time, no one even notices that it’s in there.
However, I thought the sweetness of cherries needed a stronger flavoured meat than beef so I decided to try my experiment with lamb instead. I was also concerned that it would be too sweet so I then decided to add a sharp feta cheese, which I though would cut through both the sweetness of the cherries, and that fatty aftertaste you can sometimes get from lamb. Not to mention the fact that I also love the flavour of feta when it melts and burns slightly.
I love this recipe and I know I’ll be making it again this summer. My husband thought it was ok but he’s not really a fan of lamb anyway, certainly not in burgers, so he’s not the best judge for this dish. I wonder whether many of you will find it too strange and a step too far?
I would say that I should have diced up the cherries into smaller pieces and squeezed out a little more of the juice from them, like I do with carrots. Because I left it quite chunky, it’s obvious the patty has cherries in it. Strangely enough, once mixed in with the meat, it seems to lose a lot of its sweetness; so if it had been ground up more and one didn’t see it, it’d be much harder to notice how the meat had been bulked up.
As healthier eating goes, I think this is indeed a great way to reduce the amount of meat I eat without having to compromise on taste or meal size – you get a generous burger from this recipe!
I’m also not sure if the cherries would constitute one portion of my five a day but I’m sure it certainly doesn’t hurt. 🙂
I fried these patties (no oil required either as the lamb releases enough fat) in a fry pan but I can’t wait to try this on the barbecue this summer. Would love to know what you think about my little experiment and if you have other ideas for reducing the amount of meat in dishes, I’m all ears!
The recipe’s below or you can click for a printer-friendly version here.
Lots of love
Lamb, cherry and feta burgers (makes 3-4 patties)
250 grams minced lamb
150 grams fresh de-stoned cherries, chopped, minced (gently squeeze out some of the juice as you don’t want a mushy burger!)
1 teaspoon fresh tyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (finely chopped with the thyme)
1 large garlic, minced into mush with 1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chilli powder
½ small red onion, peeled and finely chopped/grated
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
40 – 50 grams of sharp feta cheese, crumbled
In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients but try not to mush them too much – you want to try and have some texture to the lamb mince itself.
Shape into patties.
Chill the patties in the fridge or in a cool area for about half an hour.
Dry fry them in a skillet or grill/barbecue for no more than 2 minutes on each side (it depends on how you like your lamb burgers cooked).