K and I randomly went through the Top Chef Quickfire cook book one day and picked out a bunch of recipes we were interested in trying. This one was interesting because A) neither of us knew what a “piperade” was and B) it called for Espelette pepper and we didn’t know what that was either but they use it a lot in Top Chef. What a perfect opportunity to get to the bottom of these mysteries. This recipe was from California chef Ryan Scott in season 4 and their challenge was to create a simple dish to pair with a beer.
I was disappointed that I couldn’t find local or pasture-raised or grass-fed lamb at Byerly’s and I didn’t have time to make the trek out to the nearest co-op to pick some up. So for the lamb patties we had to go with conventional lamb. Note to Byerly’s – I think your customer base is such that you could do a brisk business in the local/grass-fed/pasture-raised meats outside of ground beef. Please step it up and not just because you’re the grocery store on my way home.
While the recipe photo in the book appeared to be lamb patties in a kind of broth, we actually mixed the lamb with the spices and the beer (I believe we used a bottle from K’s stash of Summit Kölsch). One of the spices was the Espelette pepper. Turns out it’s a little red pepper that grows in a specific region of France. They dry them and use the powder in just about everything there. It also turns out Espelette pepper is very difficult to find in the Twin Cities so we substituted equal parts smoked paprika and chile powder.
Piperade is also French and is typically sautéed peppers, onions and tomatoes, though this recipe just called for various sweet bell peppers and onion. We also made the cilantro and pine nut puree to accompany the dish. So what we ended up with was really, really moist lamb burgers with nicely spiced sautéed peppers and a cool and nutty sauce. We decided to round out our unusual “burger” with a baguette which, in an inspired moment, K threw some butter on and popped into the toaster oven to crisp up.
After putting out the small fire in the toaster oven after the butter dripped onto the heating element, we were soon enjoying this juicy, succulent and highly memorable dinner. I absolutely recommend this one, especially as the weather warms up and the lamb patties can be popped onto the grill for a little added smokiness. Try it. You can thank me later.