Our buddy Rich runs Elephant, one of the best restaurants in the Hudson Valley, down the road in Kingston. If you live at all nearby and haven’t been yet, go. One of our favorites there, which is mercifully always on the menu, is his plate of three little lamb sliders. The strong flavor of lamb makes a superlative burger, and the small size of a slider somehow seems to concentrate it further. I don’t eat his often enough, and I don’t make them at home often enough. Now I confess at the outset that I did not bake fluffy little rolls for these. But that really didn’t diminish the pleasure of eating them one bit.
I seasoned some ground lamb with salt, pepper, wild garlic, and smoked paprika, and formed little patties. As far as toppings go, I poked around to see what might work. The carrot-cabbage pickle was a given, since I love any kind of pickles on a burger but I didn’t want to deal with decanting the new batch of kimchi from the big crock. And I had a half gallon of whey lurking in the fridge, so I pulled it out, added maybe a cup of cream left from the last batch of milk, and made quick ricotta with it. It’s super-easy; heat the whey to about 200˚, add some lemon juice or vinegar, stir for a minute, and ladle the liquid through butter muslin or similarly fine cloth. Let it hang while you make dinner–saving the liquid for cooking, baking, etc.–then (in this case) flavor with salt, wild garlic greens, truffle oil, and Espelette pepper. It’s so fluffy and creamy and sensually pleasurable that it takes a real force of will not to eat it all with a spoon right then and there and pretend you never made it at all and here’s some ketchup.
To make the substrate match the burgers, I stamped circles out of some decent multi-grain bread (not homemade, I am chastened to admit, but it’s the first loaf we’ve bought in a month, I swear) and grilled them gently in the burger pan after I poured off the extra fat. It’s not wasteful; all those scraps will make great croutons. So: burgers on toast with fluffy, truffley ricotta and crunchy tangy pink pickles and good mustard on the top toast. The only thing wrong with these was that there weren’t very many more of them. This local lamb is so lamby and tender and good to eat; I’m really excited to work my way through it with all of the green goodness that’s coming up all over.
And to drink, the first rosé of the season. It was lovely and sunny and warm today, without the cold breeze that embellished yesterday’s labor, so I was feeling very vernal on my trip to the wine store. An $11 bottle of 2010 Château Lamargue “Les Grandes Cabanes” (Syrah/Grenache) had everything that a good bottle of pink from Southern France is supposed to, with complementary fruit and structure, minerals and herbs, and acidity enough to make the mouth water even more than the smell of that heavenly lamb already was.