Arabian Nights Burger

This burger is so flavorful! The spice mix in this recipe is a great one to add to your collection. It's great to rub on meat, poultry or seafood and even on veggies right before you grill or sauté them. 

So, as I mentioned in my Lucky #7 post yesterday, it was our 7 year anniversary and hubby had planned a surprise. He could not have done any better! He drove us to this little town called Tiburon to catch the ferry to Angel Island. The views on the ferry were breathtaking, I mean literally, I couldn't breathe and I almost died. Jk, jk. Then we got to the island, had some mimosas and took in the sights and sounds. Then we hopped back on the ferry and back to Tiburon, where hubby took us into the city for a nice steak dinner, except I ordered the crab cakes, because crab. I love crabs, again, not the STD, the crustacean. All in all, hubby did good, very good ;)

Back to the burger. As the name states, it's got an Arabian flair to it, by way of the spices. These are the spices you need, hopefully you have most of them on hand, if not then I would recommend purchasing them because they can be used for so many other recipes.

 (The ras el hanout is an optional spice. It's an Arabic spice mix that basically means "top of the shop," it's the best quality spices that the spice merchant has in his shop that he mixes together and sells as his "ras el hanout." I use the one that Williams-Sonoma sells and it is absolutely amazing, about as close as you can get to the real deal in the US).

Oh, and these two spices are needed as well:

I just wanted to show off my puppy. Is it obvious? He's grown so much! Tear.

That's ground cardamom. I'm gonna guess that most people don't have ground cardamom. It's a great spice to invest in, as it can be used in savory dishes as well as desserts. If it's a hassle for you to get some then leave it out. Otherwise, if your already going the Middle Eastern market, I would advise you to get the smallest packet of ground cardamom.

You need these ingredients also:

You can make your own labneh by using my recipe, or you can buy some like the kind in the picture at any Middle Eastern market. I use Yelp to find ethnic markets. Same goes for the za'atar. If you can't fnd it at the market, get some online, it's very cheap and has a very long shelf life.

Start by making the spice mix (recipe at the end of post on recipe card).

I grind my own beef from chuck roast. Once you grind your own meat, there's no going back. But if you are short on time or don't care to grind your meat, the pre-ground stuff is just fine.

Add the herbs and spices. Do not over mix, it will result in a tough burger and nobody likes that. Divide the beef into 4 equal portions. I like to make an X to get equal sized patties without measuring.

Form into patties and season with S&P on both sides. This helps develop that nice crust on burgers that seal in all the flavors (read: juices).

Heat some oil in a skillet (only if using lean ground beef, less than 10% fat).

Once the pan is hot, add the burger patties. A trick I like to use is using a spoon or your thumb to make a little indent in the center of the patty. This helps keep the burger from poofing up into a ball when cooking. 

 When it cooks, it will poof up in the center. Since I made the indent it will poof up but still remain flat.

See:

 Perfectly flat. You're welcome.

While the patties are cooking, make your labneh & za'atar spread.

It's just a 1/4 cup of labneh:

 2 teaspoons of za'atar:

 And stir:

 That's your spread! 

 Yum. Once the burgers and done to your liking, toast a bun (or grab a lettuce wrap if you're paleo, low carb, gluten free or whatever the kids are into these days), and spread the spread. Ha.

 Add the burger and whatever fixin's you like. I just went for tomato because I was out of red onion and lettuce, but I really wanted to add the onion and lettuce. It was still good without it, so I think just put on what you usually like on your burgers. If you like cheese I would recommend a little crumbled feta on the hot burger right off the griddle. It will melt and ooze onto the burger. I'm drooling.

 Dig in!

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*Puss in Boots huge kitty kat eyes*

 

RECIPE

For Burger Patty:

1 lb ground beef (I grind my own from a chuck roast)
a bunch of mint, chopped finely

For Arabian Gulf Spice Mix (a.k.a Baharat):

1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp red chili flakes
1/8 tsp ras el hanout (optional)

For Spread:

1/4 cup of labneh (use my recipe or buy from any Middle Eastern/Persian market)
2 tsp za'atar (available at most Middle Eastern markets or online, just google za'atar)

Directions:

Combine ground beef, chopped mint and all of the spice mix into a bowl.

Stir using your hands or a fork. Do not over-mix, just enough for all ingredients to be combined.

Form into patties using your palm to flatten the patty and your thumb to form the edge.

Season both sides of the patties with S&P, liberally not conservatively.

Heat a skillet with a touch of oil, only if you are using lean ground beef (10% or less fat). If you have more than 10% fat in your ground beef you don't need to oil the skillet.

Once the skillet is hot, add the patties and cook for a few minutes on each side, depending on how done you like your burger. You can test for doneness by cutting a small incision into the burger, if the juices run clear it is well-done.

While burger is cooking, combine the labneh and za'atar to make your burger spread.

Once burgers are cooked to your liking, toast a bun, spread both sides with the spread, add whatever fixin's you like. Sliced tomato, red onions, lettuce, pickles, whatever you like.

Dig in!