But if you have the time, I highly encourage you to make a batch of homemade harissa paste, a wonderful and incredibly versatile North African condiment, that can be used in a myriad of ways, in the kitchen. The base of the paste is made with dried chilies. Below is my favorite recipe.
You can use harissa paste to rub on meats and poultry before grilling, make a vinaigrette out of it, serve it with eggs, stir it into soups or sauces for added depth, or even in yogurt, sour cream, or hummus for a flavorful dip.
Harissa aioli is great with crab cakes, seared scallops or with fries. Use it any way you would hot sauce, imparting a deep flavorful smokey heat to anything you are cooking. The best thing about it is –it keeps for weeks, months, in the fridge, if you store it in a lidded jar, and top it with a thin layer of olive oil after each use.
The oil acts as a barrier keeping it fresh, and as the harissa paste ages, it tastes better and better, flavors melding, harmonizing and becoming more complex. So give it a whirl sometime! It’s something I always try to have on hand, because with it, I can do so many things, easily and quickly.
Make the Quick Pickled Onions, and put in the fridge to cool, while preparing the rest.
Slice the melty cheese. In this recipe, I used Mahon, a semi-soft melty cheese, which can easily be substituted with cheddar, provolone, or jack.
Grill your lamb burgers on Medium-High heat, sear well, cook to rare or medium-rare, turn off heat, place cheese on top and close lid ( or place in a warm oven- and cook to the desired done-ness). Toast the soft buns at the same time, right on the grill.
- 1 lb organic ground lamb ( or beef, or combo) – makes 3 burgers
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- ¼ C very finely diced onion, shallot or scallion
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
Harissa Aioli Recipe:
- If making the harissa pasta from scratch do this first or make ahead.
- Preheat grill to medium-high.
- Make quick pickled onions, refrigerate.
- In a med bowl, using your hands, combine ground lamb with onion, garlic, spices, salt and pepper, just to combine, being careful to not over mix. Form patties and set aside.
- Crisp bacon slices ( if using) and set on paper towel.
- Make the Harissa Aioli- whisking mayo with harissa paste, or spices in a small bowl, set aside.
- Slice the cheese.
- When the grill is hot, grill patties to medium-rare or medium. Toast buns at the same time.
- Top with cheese and close lid, turning the heat off, letting the cheese melt- (or place in a warm oven, topping with cheese, to allow it to melt).
- Assemble. Once cheese has melted, assemble. Spread harissa aioli on both sides of the buns, place burgers, optional bacon, arugula and pickled onions and then the bun top. Serve immediately.
- Calories: 595
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