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Cook the Book

Cook the Book: Tarpon Springs Greek Burgers

Cook the Book: Tarpon Springs Greek Burgers

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

Although these Tarpon Springs Greek Burgers from Pig: King of the Southern Table by James Villas have their roots in Greek flavors and culinary traditions, the evolution of the recipe is truly American in nature. Originally served in diners in Tarpon Springs, a town on the west coast of Florida, the Greek proprietors surely would have preferred to make these patties with lamb. But in the South, pork was plentiful and inexpensive and so the Greek pork burgers were born.

Villas had a grandfather who ran a diner and served burgers very similar to these, and according to the recipe they were never served on buns, just with a side of fried potatoes and a salad of cucumbers and Greek olives. I decided to go the atypical route and serve them on buns since I imagined that the dressing from the cucumber-olive salad would soak into the buns and make the burger eating experience all the more delicious.

Just looking at the list of ingredients, you can imagine how good these burgers are going to taste—with lemon, yogurt, mint, and oregano there's really no way you can go wrong. Mixing the yogurt with the pork helps keep the burgers from drying out under the heat of the broiler and adds a great tanginess. The olive-cumber salad is a great topper for the burgers. Next time I might consider adding a crumble of feta or even a smokey red pepper spread.

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Cook the Book: Tarpon Springs Greek Burgers

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About This Recipe

Yield:4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Greek olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 Kirby cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 8 to 10 Greek black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 scallions (part of green tops included), finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lean pork
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 mint leaves, minced
  • 1 cup plain yogurt

Procedures

  1. 1

    In a bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice and whisk till well blended. Add the oregano, garlic, and salt and pepper and stir till well blended. Add the cucumbers, olives, and scallions, stir well, cover with plastic wrap, and let marinate for about 1 hour.

  2. 2

    Preheat the oven broiler.

  3. 3

    In a bowl, combine the pork, onion, mint, and yogurt and mix with your hands till well blended. Shape the mixture into 4 thick oval patties, place on the rack of a broiler pan, and broil about 4 inches from the heat till cooked through, about 8 minutes on each side.

  4. 4

    Drain the cucumbers, olives, and scallions and serve the burgers hot with a little of the mixture spooned over the top.

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