I love Paris in August. The streets are calm but not empty; the cafes the same. The rhythm on the street is a few steps slower than at other times of year and, in the case of this year, the temperatures couldn’t be better. Cool in the morning, warm enough during the day to walk in sandals and shortsleeves, cool again at night. Yes, torrential rains have washed the sidewalks clean on a regular basis, but when has that ever been a problem?
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The other thing about August that’s so nice is the influx of people from around the world. Suddenly it seems that French isn’t the language of the street, replaced by all languages, English just one of them. This year isn’t so different, it’s just that visitors are fewer and farther between. The good side of this is no lines at museums and cinemas; the bad side is certainly an economic slump. Yet you wouldn’t know it. Never has the spirit in Paris been better in my experience, the welcome from everyone from café owner to server, baker to fishmonger more sincere.
Normandy for the Weekend and Lamb on the Menu
On weekends I’ve gone to Normandy to reunite with friends and family, and lots of cookuing is done on the grill. There are côtes de boeuf, those iconic slabs of beef that the French love so much; chubby chickens that roast slowly on a “tournebroche” or spit, even lamb burgers where I was last weekend. Lamb burgers? Yes. The French are the fifth largest consumer of lamb in the world, and they love it any way they can get it. I am French in that regard, for lamb is far and away my favorite red meat. And since cooking a meal is always part of my visit, I made lamb burgers for a crowd.
Grind it Yourself
If I cannot get a local butcher to grind lamb for me, I simply get a lamb shoulder or some collar, and I grind it myself in the food processor. Then, a pinch of cinnamon, some salt and pepper, a touch of garlic and some shallot and a few swift pats with the hands, and lamb burgers are ready for the grill, the frying pan, the broiler. When I serve them, eyes light up. For while lamb is beloved, ground lamb isn’t typical to French cuisine, but rather to the Maghreb, Greece, Lebanon, and further afield.
Lamb Burger Beats Them All
To me, though, a lamb burger beats any other burger hands down, for lamb has its own distinct yet delicate flavor which goes so well with the flavors of summer. In our next video you’ll see one of my favorite ways to serve the lamb burger and meanwhile, give them a try. You’ll come up with plenty of ideas on your own.
- 1-1/2 pounds;750g ground lamb (from collar or shoulder)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt or to taste
- As many grinds of black pepper as you like
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon smokey paprika
- 1 shallot minced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Place the ground lamb into a large bowl and mix in the rest of the ingredients, preferably using your hands. Pinch off a small piece, cook it, and taste. Adjust the ingredients according to your taste.
- Form the meat into patties, flattening them gently with your hands.
- Preheat the broiler, the grill,or simply put a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the patties to your liking, with the understanding that a rare patty will always give you. more flavor and juice than one that is cooked through.