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Eric Akis: Mark the May long weekend with souvlaki-style burgers

Ground pork, seasoned Greek-style, is formed into patties, grilled and stuffed in buns with items you might enjoy with souvlaki, such as tzatziki, tomatoes and feta cheese.
Juicy pork burgers are flavoured souvlaki-style and topped with tzatziki, tomatoes and feta cheese. ERIC AKIS

The Victoria Day weekend is coming up, which many Canadians mark as the unofficial start to summer. Or, in other words, the perfect time to step outside, fire up the barbecue and grill something tasty to eat.

Burgers have long been popular in that regard, and I’m not opposed to your regular old one topped with processed cheese. But if you want switch things up in a sunny, Mediterranean style, try my recipe for pork souvlaki burgers.

I call them “souvlaki” burgers because I flavoured the ground pork I used for them like I would the cubed meat used for souvlaki — with such things as lemon, garlic, oregano and spices. After grilling the burger patties, I then set them in buns with items one might serve with souvlaki, such as tomato, onion, feta cheese and lettuce.

It’s a flavourful burger you could serve with oven fries or another inviting potato side dish.

Pork Souvlaki Burgers

Ground pork, seasoned Greek-style, is formed into patties, grilled and stuffed in buns with items you might enjoy with souvlaki, such as tzatziki, tomatoes and feta cheese.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: eight to 10 minutes

Makes: four servings

500 grams ground pork

1 large egg

1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

• pinch ground cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp salt

• freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• olive oil for the grill

4 brioche or other tender hamburger buns, split and warmed

1/2 to 3/4 cup store-bought or homemade tzatziki

• baby salad greens or baby arugula, to taste

100 grams feta, sliced, or to taste

4 to 8 thin slices ripe tomato

4 to 8 thin slices green or yellow bell pepper

4 to 8 thin slices red or white onion

Place the pork, egg, breadcrumbs, zest, juice, garlic, oregano, paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt and black pepper in a bowl and mix to combine.

Moisten your hands very lightly with cold water. Divide and form pork mixture into four, 3/4-inch thick patties. Now make a deep dimple in one side of each patty, which should prevent it from overly puffing during cooking.

Turn your barbecue to medium, medium-high heat. When it’s hot, lightly oil the grill. Grill the patties four to five minutes per side, or until entirely cooked through and the temperature reaches 165 F (74 C) in the centre of the patty when tested with an instant-read meat thermometer.

Turn heat to low, top each patty with some of the sliced feta cheese and cook one minute or so more, until cheese is warm.

Spread bottom buns with a generous amount of tzatziki. Set some salad greens (or arugula), tomatoes and bell pepper on each bottom bun, and then top with a pork patty and some sliced onions. Set on top buns and serve.

Eric’s options: Instead of ground pork, make these burgers with ground lamb or turkey. To make a pork souvlaki burger salad, omit the buns, and arrange the salad greens (or arugula), tomatoes, peppers, onions and feta cheese on each of four dinner plates. When cooked, set a pork patty on each plate and serve with tzatziki.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.