Recipes

Merguez Sliders with Spiced Kefir Sauce

Tony Maws

Craigie on Main

Merguez is a North African lamb sausage with cumin, coriander, and caraway. With those flavors in mind, JBF Award winner Tony Maws made his own spice rub for this juicy burger. And when demonstrating this recipe to onlookers at Sur La Table in Boston for Taste America, the local chef divulged one of his pro tips for grinding meat: make sure your meat is really cold—you can even put it in the freezer. If it’s not cold, you lose the nice crumbly texture that’s essential to a great burger. ​

Ingredients

Merguez Patties:

  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder with fat, ground 
  • 3 tablespoons harissa paste
  • 2 tablespoons Turkish hot pepper paste 
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and ground 
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted and ground 
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted and ground
  • 1/2 ounce kosher salt
  • 16 slider buns

Kefir Sauce:

  • One 18 x 18-inch piece fine mesh cheesecloth
  • 1/2 bottle (16 ounces) Lifeway Whole Milk Kefir 
  • 1 cup red onion, minced 
  • 1 cup cucumber, minced 
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and ground 
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed, toasted and ground 
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted and ground 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Method

Make the merguez patties: gently mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Be careful not to handle them too much—the burgers should be loosely pressed. Form the meat into 16 three ounce patties, approximately 1-inch thick. Set aside.

Make the kefir sauce: fold the 18 x 18-inch cheesecloth in half. Line a strainer with the cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Pour the kefir in the cloth and strain in the refrigerator overnight. 

Once strained, transfer the thickened kefir to a large bowl. (Note: liquid can be discarded or reserved for another use). Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Set sauce aside.

Grill the patties: light a grill. Season the patties with kosher salt on both sides. Once the grill is hot, cook the patties until medium or medium-well, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side (internal temperature should read between 136°F and 144°F).

To serve, place each cooked patty on a slider bun and top with the spiced kefir sauce.

Yield

16 sliders