Savory and flavorful ground lamb patties atop fluffy bulgur pilaf amped up with toasted pinions, and topped with a creamy yogurt sauce... Ground Lamb Patties with Yogurt and Bulgur Pilaf is perfect for a casual dinner party, and easy enough for a weeknight dinner!
Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.
~~ Henry Van Dyke, American author, educator, and clergyman.
When I began preparing for this post over the past few days, I was preparing for my first trip back to Las Cruces after our summer move from New Mexico to south Texas. If you've kept up with our journey, a major move and months-long-attempt to get high speed internet resulted in the blog taking the backseat for awhile...
These ground lamb patties may be "low hanging fruit" (I've made various versions of this dish for years), making it a perfect post when time is short and loved ones beckon. While the list of ingredient is somewhat long, and there are 3 components, it really is a simple and quick main dish.
Enough chasing rabbits... on to the lamb patties!
About Cooking with Ground Lamb
I love ground lamb recipes, and until I moved to McAllen, I could never count on finding it ground lamb at the local market. It is widely available here, and I'm enjoying fine-tuning recipes I've made often over the years, and sharing them with my readers.
If you can't find ground lamb, you can probably find boneless leg of lamb or lamb stew meat, but ground lamb may be harder to find. If you've got a meat grinder attachment for a kitchen mixer, it's relatively simple to grind your own. I love to make sausage in casings, but it's a huge undertaking. On the other hand, simple grinding it is not.
How to Grind Meat explains an easy method for making ground lamb in your food processor. It is important to use a powerful food processor that is up to the task! I trust my Cuisinart. A big advantage to grinding your own lamb is control.
Ground lamb is not really a lean choice, so I do recommend watching your portion size on this dish and in general. A big advantage to grinding your own lamb is control. You can cut fat and calories by carefully trimming it before you grind it. NOTE: I have discovered the pre-ground lamb packages don't state how lean it is (as with beef or turkey).
Making Greek-Style Ground Lamb Patties
The addition of garbanzos (chick peas) adds interesting texture to the patties, cuts the fat per serving, and bumps up the protein slightly. I approached this recipe much like one makes meatloaf - binder (egg, panko), herbs and spices to bump up the flavor.
These lamb patties have a decidedly Greek flavor profile, and pair perfectly with the sauce and pilaf. The sauce is made with yogurt, and adds a lovely fresh and creamy note. The bulgur pilaf brings whole grain goodness to the dish, and the addition of piñions (pine nuts) makes it irresistible... 😉
Making the Bulgar Pilaf
Read the instructions on the package of your bulgur. I like to use the #2 "medium" grind, but you can use the coarse grind as well. Typically, the fine grind is used as a grain filler in meat mixtures like kibbeh. The main consideration with the bulgur you choose is how it absorbs liquid. The amount of liquid varies, as does the cooking time.
My #2 medium grind bulgur requires a ratio of 1:2 bulgur to liquid. Some medium grind bulgur specifies a ration of 1:2.5. I've usually felt the additional liquid makes the grains a little mushy or leaves liquid in the bottom of the pot. When you make your pilaf, simply add the amount of liquid that your package instructs, and cook for the specified time. I feel broth/stock improves the flavor of the pilaf, but you can certainly substitute water.
Serve with a Greek salad of crispy romaine, cucumbers, kalamata olives, and feta topped with a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing is a perfect complement to this meal. I would not hesitate to serve this for a casual dinner party, but it's simple enough for a weeknight supper.
- Combine the ingredients for the lamb patties. They're basically just a meatloaf/meatball mixture. Portion into 5-6 patties.
- When the lamb mixture is ready to cook, start the pilaf.
- Once the pilaf is covered and simmering, whisk the yogurt sauce together. If you're making a salad to accompany the dish, prep that as well.
- Lastly, cook the lamb patties on a hot griddle. They'll require about 10 minutes to cook. Keep an eye on the pilaf, and when it is done, add the parsley and piñions, fluff it with a fork, and replace the lid until ready to plate the dish. It really is that simple!
Tips and FAQ
- One 4 ounce patty with a serving of pilaf and a Greek side salad is a reasonable amount of food. Serve it on a salad plate rather than a larger dinner plate, and it looks quite generous! I like to remind my readers the importance of portion control in eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight. 😀
- A leftover patty is delicious the next day for lunch... Try serving it with a whole grain bun, or for a low carb alternative, have it with a green salad!
- Do ground lamb patties freeze well? If I'm going to have enough leftover for another dinner, I like to portion what I need that day and freeze prior to cooking. It will taste freshly made when you thaw and cook it later.
- I hate lamb. Can I substitute something else? Yes! Use your preferred ground meat. The flavor will obviously be different, but your patties will be just as flavorful (and probably lower in fats and calories).
As I finish writing this post, I am enjoying coffee with Evan, Sarah, and Devin in Las Cruces. I always say "they feed my soul." The transition from Las Cruces to McAllen has been a difficult one for all of us, and this trip will definitely improve my outlook when I return home to McAllen in a few days. Sunday, we're looking forward to working on a future blog post and recipe - together as a family. Life is good!
- ½ cup garbanzos, chick peas
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- a handful of fresh dill*
- a handful of fresh parsley leaves
- 1 egg
- 1 pound lean ground lamb
- 4 scallions, very finely chopped
- ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- ½ cup grated feta
- 1 teaspoon salt*
- several grinds pepper
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup bulgur*
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
- several grinds pepper
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill*
- To the bowl of a small food processor, add garbanzos, garlic, dill, parsley, and egg. Pulse until herbs are finely chopped, and mixture is well-combined.
- In a mixing bowl, combine herb mixture, lamb, and remaining ingredients. Using your hands or a spatula, combine ingredients until evenly distributed. Form 4-6 patties. Set aside while you start the pilaf.
- Bring broth to a boil. Add bulgur, reduce heat to a simmer, add oregano and salt. Cover.
- Cook according to package instructions. Times vary.
- Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet.
- When bulgur is tender, add pine nuts and parsley, a couple grinds of pepper, and fluff with a fork. Check seasoning. Make yogurt sauce while bulgur cooks.
- Combine yogurt, lemon zest, and dill. Slice lemon to garnish plate if desired.
- Plate the pilaf, place patty atop, and garnish with a dollop of yogurt and a lemon slice.
Substitute about ½ teaspoon of dried dill for the fresh if necessary.
Bulgur comes in various grinds, from coarse to fine. I like #2 (medium), but the coarse grind works well in pilaf too. Follow instructions on package for amount of liquid and cooking time.