Call 'em Lebanese tacos or call 'em lamb-burgers, this concoction that I threw together last night tasted great, took less than an hour to make, and made a fine dinner for a hot summer evening. I didn't follow any specific recipe, but it's certainly Near Eastern in nature, influenced by felafels and kufta and kibbeh and good things like that. These proportions

I started with some scrappy lamb meat that I found in the about-to-expire bin at the grocery store -- a couple of leg-o-lamb steaks and one shank -- cut the meat into rough cubes (discarding most fat) and threw it into the Cuisinart. This was enough meat to make about 12-16 ounces, trimmed. I added half of a medium yellow onion, a couple of garlic cloves, a sprig or two of fresh mint, a shake of cumin and a dash of cinnamon, and salt and pepper. Using the steel blade, chop the meat fairly thoroughly until it rolls into a ball; pop it into a bowl and stir in one egg, lifting the meat gently and working it lightly so as to avoid turning it into a paste. Refrigerate it while working on the simple accompaniments:

  • Wash, dry and cut up a half dozen romaine leaves and put them in a serving bowl.

  • Wash, cube and salt a couple of fresh tomatoes and put them in another serving bowl.

  • Cut 1/2 of a cucumber into small dice, put them in a serving bowl, and stir in 4 tablespoons of yogurt and two tablespoons of tahini. Add finely chopped mint leaves to taste and, if you like, a shot of hot-pepper sauce.

  • Cut two pitas in half and warm them in the toaster oven.

    Take the lamb-burger meat out of the fridge. Form them into four patties of approximately equal size. Heat about 1/4 cup vegetable oil to sizzling in a large black-iron skillet, and pop the burgers in. Cook over high heat, turning carefully on occasion, until they're seared and crunchy on both sides and hot-pink in the middle.

    To serve, put a patty in a pita (whole or broken up, according to your taste) and stuff in lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber-yogurt sauce to taste. Eat, with plenty of napkins.

    This dish offers an interesting choice to wine lovers: As a light, informal meal, it doesn't really call for a fancy vino, but on the other hand, spicy lamb dishes really bring out the best in dry reds. We pulled cork on a good but modest Pacific Northwest Cab/Merlot from Washington Hills, and it was an excellent match.