Chopped Lamb Steak au Poivre

This is the more elegant presentation of the J. T. Burger I developed for the Balboa Café in San Francisco, and is wildly good, beyond its modest title. The chopped lamb should have about 15 percent fat and be cooked medium rare.


  • 2 pounds ground or chopped lamb meat
  • ¼ cup black peppercorns
  • 32 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • salt
  • ¼ cup tomato concasse
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, parboiled, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter


Salt the lamb and shape into 4-inch patties, inches thick, as loosely as possible but still neatly and firmly packed. Either crush the peppercorns with a mallet, grind them very coarsely, or break them up in a spice mill. Coat the lamb patties on both sides with the pepper and let stand 1 hour.

Meanwhile, poach the garlic with the water, thyme, and some salt in a saucepan until just tender when stuck with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove the thyme and discard. Strain the liquid and reduce it to ½ cup. Reserve the garlic separately.

Heat a griddle or frying pan over high heat. Sear the lamb patties 2 minutes on each side. Turn the heat down to medium and cook another 2 minutes on each side. Remove the patties and keep warm. Pour off all the fat and deglaze the pan with the garlic poaching liquid. Add the tomato, mint, and butter, turn the heat to high, and shake the pan to incorporate the butter.

Put the lamb patties on warm plates and place the garlic cloves around them. Spoon 1 teaspoon sauce over each patty and the rest around.