There are many stories about who was the first to put meat in a bun and call it a hamburger, but the one I like best is about Fletcher Davis, of Athens, Texas. He is believed to have sold hamburgers at his Tyler Street cafe in the late 1880s, then brought them to the 1904 St Louis World's Fair. According to a 1974 New York Times article, the McDonald's chain claimed the hamburger's inventor was an unknown vendor at the fair, but research showed this vendor was in fact Davis.
My burger recipe is quite different from the garden-variety hamburger. I have a very popular lamb skewer recipe with a flavoursome marinade, which I have added to the lamb mince here. The juicy patty is also basted, and topped with an interesting salad. The pickled turnips are sold at most Middle Eastern delis, and the mojo picon dressing lasts for a couple of weeks in the fridge. It is excellent on pork sausages.
Andalucian lamb burger, pickled turnips and watercress
1.2kg coarse lamb leg mince
2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp hot paprika
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp ground cumin
60ml fino sherry
1 tsp nutmeg
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
100ml fino sherry
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp sweet paprika
2 heads of garlic
1 bunch mint, washed and picked
1 bunch watercress, washed and picked
300g pickled turnips
8 burger buns
Mix meat patty ingredients, working them in well together. Leave to marinate for two hours, if possible, then shape into patties.
Mix baste ingredients. When you are ready to cook the burgers, rub patties with baste mix before putting them on the grill, then smear with mix a few times while cooking.
For the smoked eggplant, wrap the garlic in foil and roast in an 180C oven for about an hour or until soft. Cook eggplants over an open flame until soft and well charred, then place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, peel off the charred skin and remove the tops, then place peeled eggplant in a bowl. Squeeze baked garlic over the eggplant, mash and mix roughly with a fork, and season with sea salt.
Prepare the mojo picon (see below).
Keep cooked lamb burgers in a warm place while you prepare the salad. Place mint, watercress and turnips in a bowl and dress with some red mojo. Slice a bun in half, place a burger on the bun then spread a tablespoon of eggplant mix over it. Top with a small amount of labna, then top with dressed salad. Spoon over another tablespoon of red mojo, top with the other half of the bun and serve.
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp fennel seeds
2 red capsicums
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp hot paprika
20ml sherry vinegar
2 garlic cloves
100ml olive oil
Toast cumin and fennel seeds in a pan; cool slightly then grind finely and strain through asieve.
Roast capsicum sprinkled with a little olive oil and sea salt in a moderate oven until blistered and cooked through. Cover in a bowl with plastic wrap, allow to cool, peel and remove seeds.
Place capsicum flesh in a blender, add one tablespoon ground cumin, one tablespoon ground fennel seeds, sweet and hot paprika, vinegar and garlic then puree until smooth. Add oil slowly until smooth and glossy.
Be careful not to dislocate your jaw while trying to eat this monster!