Last month I was hosting a #LanguedocDay tasting event for a group of ten foodie friends. After researching the food from the Languedoc region, I concluded I didn't have the 24 hours or so needed to make cassoulet. Rather than trying a tradition dish from the area, I wanted to come up with something that would pair well with the earthy red wines.
Lamb seemed like a good bet. I tried a grilled leg of lamb the weekend before. It was good, but a bit more effort than I wanted for our event, which was going to be focusing on the wine tasting. Sticking with lamb, I came up with these Lamb Sliders with Provencal Pesto as an easy recipe for company. I often use mint with lamb, but to conjure the flavors of the region, I added some rosemary and basil as well. You could play with the herb combination, thyme or lavender would also be good to have in the mix. These sliders were easy to make for company, and were definitely enjoyed. Keep them in mind next time you are cooking for a crowd!
2 lb ground lamb (makes 12 sliders)
For the Provençal Pesto
1 large clove garlic
¾ cup mint
handful basil leaves
2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
Optional: top with grilled or sauteed onions (I had some on hand from another dish)
First, make the pesto. Puree all the pesto ingredients in a food processor. Set the pesto aside while you make the lamb sliders.
Take the lamb out of the fridge about 15 minutes before preparing the burgers so it gets closer to room temperature. Divide the ground lamb into 6 equal portions per pound of lamb. I was making this for a gathering of 10, you could easily half the recipe or scale it as needed. Shape into thick, somewhat round patties. Basically, a bit thicker but smaller diameter than a regular burger in order to fit the slider bun and concept. Sprinkle with a bit of salt.
I had planned to make the sliders on the grill but weather didn't permit. I'd encourage you to grill if you can, but I made them in the skillet as follows: Heat the skillet with a bit of oil on medium high. Cook for about 6 minutes on one side, then flip and cook another 5 to 6 minutes on the other side--that made burgers that were medium rare.
Serve the sliders on slider buns, topped with about 2 teaspoons of the pesto each, and the optional onions. Enjoy! We had this along with some orzo with mushrooms and spinach, plus some pork sausage.
Wine Pairing: The lamb sliders were paired with the 2009 Campagne De Centeilles, a 100% Cinsault from Minervois. I don't know about you, but I don't have too many 100% Cinsaults! This wine definitely had that garrigue thing going on--its aroma and taste had the fragrance of wild herbs like rosemary and lavender. The wine was a great match for the lamb sliders topped with Provencal mint pesto! It was big enough to stand up to the meat, and the herbal qualities in the wine paired nicely with the pesto.