Tuesday, October 30, 2018

My Own Lamb Burgers

I was gratified the other day when Joan requested that I make my lamb burgers. This recipe is an amalgam of a number of other people's, but with enough changes over the years to have become my own.

Like any recipe, it can be varied based on your own preferences and seasonality. Skip the tomato if you can't find a really good one. Hold (or double) the jalapeno depending on your tolerance for heat.

Bobby Jay’s Lamb Burgers


·      1 lb ground lamb

·      1 Tbs and 1 tsp grapeseed or other oil, separated

·      2 small shallots

·      1 big clove garlic

·      2 Tbs chopped parsley

·      2 Tbs grated mozzarella

·      2 Tbs crumbled feta cheese

·      3 Tbs panko crumbs

·      1 really good tomato

·      red onion slices

·      2 pickled jalapenos, coarsely chopped (optional but recommended)

·      salt and pepper

·      Ciabatta or hamburger rolls

·      lettuce leaves or other greens


1.     Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2.     Finely chop shallots and garlic.  Saute in a 1 tsp oil until soft.

3.     Mix lamb with shallots and garlic, parsley and bread crumbs.  Form patties.  Fold cheeses into middle and surround with meat.

4.     Heat remaining Tbs oil in cast iron (or other heavy bottomed) skillet.  Season meat with salt and pepper and sear in pan for about 3-4 minutes.  Turn meat and put skillet in oven until done to taste.  Another 3-5 minutes for medium-rare.

5.     In the meantime, heat slices of ciabatta.  Best is on a grill pan until browned, but a toaster would be OK, as would be the oven where the meat is cooking.

6.     Put a burger on top of ciabatta slice, top (or bottom) with tomato slices, onion slices and, if using, jalapenos.  Either add lettuce leaves or accompany with lightly dressed greens.

Let me know if you try this.

Bobby Jay

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Plov: Uzbekistan's National Dish

We recently went to Uzbekistan, a fascinating country full of history, great Islamic architecture and quite decent food. The national dish -- Plov -- is way better than decent, and our group was regaled with what seemed to have been a fine example.

Plov is a rice dish (think pilaf), and always consists of carrots, onions, chickpeas, garlic, meat, raisins or barberries and spices. Ours was spiced only with cumin, but sometimes paprika and hot peppers are added.

In Tashkent, at the wonderful Chorsu Bazaar, we saw women cutting carrots into batons and preparing other ingredients for Plov, including already soaked and boiled chickpeas.

Prepping yellow carrots for Plov in Tashkent's Chorsu Bazaar
In Samarkand, we saw a group of people (mostly men) making a typical Plov for a neighborhood event.

An outdoor Plov taking shape in Samarkand
However, it was not until we got to Bukhara that we got to eat our very own Plov, which we watched being prepared. The carrots, onions and lamb had been cooking for about an hour when we arrived for the final stages. Here is what it looked like as our hosts and guide explained what was to come next, starting with the four oils used in the dish: flaxseed (the dark one), sunflower seed, olive and a fourth that I can't remember.

Initial stage of Plov
Our hosts and our guide Anwar explain
The four oils used in Plov
The next step was to add the chickpeas, garlic and raisins and to season with generous amounts of cumin seeds.

With chickpeas, garlic and raisins added
And finally the rice, which must be added in a mound which is then made into a smooth covering of the meat and vegetables, brought to a boil and then simmered over a fire fed with twigs of a local bush.

Rice is added to the Plov, which is simmered until done
And voilà, delicious Plov.

Finished Plov
Note to self: for tour reunion, make Plov.

Bobby Jay