In the summer, you are sure to encounter sheepherders and their flocks when you are hiking around Steamboat. The high mountain range land of Northwestern Colorado provides some of the best forage available for sheep. In fact, this area has a rich history with sheep. During the 1930’s, Hayden was the largest rail-shipping center for lambs in the country.
Local ranchers, like Shiloh and Jay Whaley, are working hard to revive our appetite for lamb. They sell their lamb, raised in Yampa, on the Community Agriculture Alliances marketplace. Give grass-fed, Colorado-raised lamb a try.
Photo courtesy of the Community Agriculture Alliance.
Yampa Valley Lamb Burgers with Mint Pesto
These burgers are fabulous without any toppings, but you'll love local lamb burgers prepared with a hint of mint. Replacing traditional, sugary mint jelly with this fresh/mint herb sauce and a layer of Dijon mustard, makes this burger sing.
Servings: 4 servings
- 1 pound ground lamb ground beef may be substituted
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic about 2 cloves
- 1 ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika optional
- 4 hamburger buns
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard optional
- 1 cup mint leaves packed
- ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves packed
- 2 cloves garlic unpeeled
- 2 tablespoon pine nuts or walnuts
- 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- zest from one lemon
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- Combine meat, seasonings and olive oil in a medium bowl. Form the seasoned meat into four patties, put them on a plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- To prepare the mint pesto, warm a small skillet over medium heat to toast the garlic cloves. Brown cloves on all sides for 2-3 minutes. Let the cloves cool, then peel them. Place the nuts in the same skillet and toast them lightly over medium heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. In a food processor or blender, pulse the Mint Pesto ingredients until the mixture is combined and a desirable texture. It only makes about ⅓ cup, but it is just enough for 4 burgers. Double the recipe if you want to freeze some for later.
- Preheat the grill to a medium-high temperature. Cook lamb burgers for about 5 minutes per side or until an internal temperature of 140 degrees is reached. Serve on a toasted bun with a light layer of Dijon mustard and about 1 tablespoon of Mint Pesto.
Mint Pesto can be served as a condiment to lamb dishes or mix a dollop of it in nonfat yogurt for a creamy sauce for sweet potato fries. This recipe makes enough to spread on four lamb burgers, but if the mint in your garden is going wild, double the recipe and freeze some for later.
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