Monterey Lamb Burger with Wild Arugula Mushroom Bacon Salad and Dry Jack Frico
Monterey is definitely one of my favorite areas of California, especially for eating.There is something pure about the food that I’ve had there. In this burger, I have incorporated a lot of native Monterey and Northern Californian ingredients and thrown my little twist on them to create a burger that really captures the feeling that I get in ol’ Monterey!
Pine Nut Butter:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 large clove garlic, crushed and finely minced
Wild Arugula Mushroom Bacon Salad:
6 slices bacon, diced
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or vegetable oil
2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms (can substitute other assorted fresh wild mushrooms, in part, if desired)
1/2 large shallot, thinly sliced
Scant 1/8 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Two pinches freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup Sutter Home Merlot
1/4 cup crumbled Point Reyes blue cheese
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups wild arugula (or baby arugula), lightly packed
Dry Jack Frico:
Grapeseed oil or vegetable oil, for oiling skillet
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons finely grated Dry Monterey Jack
2 pounds ground lamb
1/4 cup finely minced shallot
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grapeseed oil or vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 good-quality potato hamburger buns
Preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat.
To make Pine Nut Butter, in a small mixing bowl, combine butter, pine nuts, lemon juice, honey, and garlic.
To make Wild Arugula Mushroom Salad, heat a large fireproof skillet on the grill over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook for 5 minutes or until crispy, stirring occasionally. Transfer bacon to paper towels to dry. Pour off some of the bacon fat leaving about 1 1/2 tablespoons rendered fat. Add 1 tablespoon oil, mushrooms, shallot, rosemary leaves, and pinch pepper; cook for 7-9 minutes, stirring occassionally. Add Sutter Home Merlot wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a large bowl. When mixture is cool, add blue cheese, lemon juice, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil; mix well to combine. Add arugula, bacon, and pinch pepper; toss well to coat.
To make Dry Jack Fricos, heat a large fireproof skillet over medium heat. Lightly oil skillet with oil. Sprinkle 2 1/2 tablespoons of Dry Monterey Jack in the skillet to make a 6-7 inch circle. Cook for 2 minutes. Loosen the outer edges of the circle with the spatula; then carefully flip the cheese with a spatula and cook for another 1 minute or cook until reasonably browned (in the process of loosening the edges and cooking the size of the circle will be smaller than when you started, which is fine). Place the frico on paper towels. Repeat with remaining cheese to make six Dry Jack Fricos. (If desired, can use two skillets at once to speed up the process).
To make the patties, combine the lamb, shallot, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns.
Brush the grill rack with oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, just until done, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.
To assemble the burgers, spread a generous amount of Pine Nut Butter on the cut sides of the buns. On each bun bottom, place a patty, a generous amount of Wild Arugula Mushroom Salad, and a Dry Jack Frico. Add the bun tops and serve.
Makes 6 burgers.