By Brooke Marshall
For many of us, Memorial Day marks the beginning of backyard barbecues and pool parties. I’m not much of a griller, but I wanted to celebrate this past Memorial Day with some traditional all-American fare. I knew my bases were covered at the Ambler Farmers’ Market. Freeland Market had scrumptious-looking hamburger patties and frankfurters, but my thoughts shifted when I realized they also had Merguez sausage burgers. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Merguez sausage is a lamb sausage flavored with harissa and cumin. I also remembered that Taproot Farm has had cucumbers, the first of the season, and thought tzatziki sauce would balance the spicy harissa nicely. So I settled on the lamb burgers topped with tzatziki sauce, an American gyro.
At first I planned to grill these burgers, but since I don’t have a grill, I was at the mercy of my friends and our conflicting schedules over the holiday weekend. In the end, I decided I would pan-fry the burgers in a cast-iron skillet. This was a great way to prepare them, giving the burgers a very crispy crust. If you don’t want the smell of fried burgers lingering in your house though, you may want to try the grill. Either way, my only other recommendation is to make sure you toast those hamburger buns on the grill or in the oven before constructing these burgers. Nothing makes a burger fall flat faster than a cold roll.
MERGUEZ BURGERS WITH TZATZIKI SAUCE & ROASTED POTATOES
Tzatziki Sauce –
- 2 cucumbers, approximately 1 lb. (Taproot Farm)
- 2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill (Pennypack Farm)
- Juice from 1 lemon
Roasted Potatoes –
- 4 potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (Clay Brick Farm)
- Salt & Pepper
- Olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley, chopped
Merguez Burgers –
- 4 Merguez burger patties (Freeland Market)
- 4 hamburger buns, preferably brioche
- Lettuce (Taproot Farm)
- Sliced onion (Clay Brick Farms)
- Make the tzatziki sauce. This can be made the day before and refrigerated. If you make it ahead, make sure to take it out of the refrigerator so that it comes back up to temperature before constructing the burgers. For the sauce, first, cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds with a spoon. Cut the cucumber halves in half again lengthwise. Then slice the cucumbers and spread them out on paper towels. Sprinkle the cucumber slices with salt and let them sit for 30 minutes. Then press with more paper towels. This will remove excess moisture. Combine the cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, dill, and lemon juice and mix to combine. Put the sauce aside to let the flavors meld. You can also strain the yogurt before combining the ingredients to make sure this sauce is as thick as possible. A very thick tzatziki sauce works well as a burger topping, but you probably wouldn’t want it this thick if you were just making a sauce to scoop up with pita bread. I strained mine in a yogurt strainer, but you could also use layers of cheese cloth or a fine-mesh strainer.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and prepare the potatoes. Put the cut potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then drizzle olive oil over the potatoes and toss to coat. Roast in the oven until golden brown, removing the tray from the oven once while roasting to toss the potatoes so that they roast evenly.
- While the potatoes are roasting, cook the Merguez burger patties. If you’re pan-frying them, pour Canola oil into a skillet until the bottom is completely covered with oil and heat on medium-high. Once the oil is heated, cook the patties in the oil, flipping occasionally, until you begin to see juices flowing out from inside the patties. Then remove the patties from the skillet and put them on a plate covered with a paper towel.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven and toss them with the butter and parsley. Then construct the burgers. I put my burgers together in the following order, bottom bun, a thin layer of tzatziki sauce, lettuce, onion, burger, thick layer of tzatziki sauce, top bun.
Brooke Marshall is a market volunteer, Ambler socialite and overall good egg. This season she will be the market’s resident locavore, turning market proceeds into culinary delights. If you see her at market, say hello. And if you make one of her recipes, bring it to market for her approval. Only kidding about the last part.