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Chèvre-Stuffed Lamb Burgers with Ratatouille

An American and Provençal mashup of epic proportions!

If you have never had a lamb burger, well, you don't know what you are missing. Ground lamb makes the most moist and flavorful burgers thanks in part to a fatty acid found in lamb that is not present in beef, imparting that distinctly hardy, earthy lamb taste. This recipe features flavors and ingredients from Provence, the southern region of France known for its Mediterranean coast and vibrant cuisine. Ratatouille - a baked vegetable compote - tops the herbes de Provence-seasoned burger that has a chèvre (goat cheese) center. No ketchup. No lettuce and tomato. French fries are permissible, bien sûr, but you'll probably be happier with a green salad for this sophisticated supper!

Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; dry measuring cups; measuring spoons; mixing bowl; rubber spatula; pastry brush (optional); spoons; grill or grill pan; offset spatula

Burger Ingredients:

1½ - 2 pounds ground lamb

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon herbes de Provence (or 1 teaspoon each dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried oregano)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons chèvre

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Garnishes: 4 English muffins or brioche rolls

1½ cups ratatouille

1. First prepare the burgers by mixing the lamb with the minced garlic, herbes de Provence, and generous amounts of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

2. Divide the mixture into four equal portions (6-8 ounces, depending on how big you like your burgers). Flatten one portion into a 5-6-inch disc.

3. Place 1½ tablespoons of chèvre in the center and spread, leaving a 1-inch border of meat. Fold over the border of lamb to cover the cheese, enclosing and sealing the burger. Set aside.

4. Repeat with the remaining three portions of meat.

ILOC tip: assemble the burgers ahead of time, wrap in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

5. Heat the grill or grill pan.

6. Brush each lamb burger on both sides with a bit of olive oil. Place on the grill or grill pan and cook, in batches if necessary, for 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare. Cook longer per side, if desired.

7. Remove the burgers from the heat and place on lightly toasted English muffins or brioche buns. Top with a portion of ratatouille.

8. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 burgers.

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