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Kiwi Rocket Burger with Tangy Avocado Chutney

The term "Kiwi" is frequently misused in North America to refer to the fuzzy brown berry with green flesh which is a type of gooseberry, originally from China. The correct term is "Kiwi fruit" coined in the late 1970s by a New Zealand marketing agency to denote the fruit as a home-grown export. The term "Kiwi" has two meanings: properly, the Maori (New Zealand's aboriginal people) name for the small nocturnal flightless bird found exclusively in the islands of New Zealand and as a colloquial name for a New Zealander. Arugula (Eruca sativa) is known in Italian as "rochetta" a diminutive form of its Latin genus "Eruca". In French it is known as "roquette" and in the Queen's English of Commonwealth Countries, including New Zealand, it is known as "rocket". Although the Kiwi Rocket Burger is named specifically for its constituents, New Zealand grown (Kiwi) lamb and arugula (rocket), pureed "Kiwi fruit" is also used in the tangy avocado chutney to give the sauce its tart character and to honor the American linguistic adaptation.


6 strips of thick cut sugar cured bacon (not smoked)
2 medium Vidalia or Texas sweet onions (6 Tbsp grated for the patties, the remainder caramelized for the chutney and rocket salad)
Tangy Avocado Chutney
8 large ripe sweet Kiwi fruit
2 large ripe avocados
8 dried apricot halves
3 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (1/2 tsp for the chutney, 2 tsp for the patties and 1/2 tsp for the rocket salad)
5 Tbsp Colavita extra virgin olive oil (1 Tbsp for the chutney and 4 Tbsp for the rocket salad)
6 tablespoons sourdough nibblers crushed for breadcrumbs (approximately 20 pieces)
5 large cloves of garlic tablespoons (4 for the patties and 1 for the rocket salad)
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (1 tsp for the patties and 1/2 tsp for the rocket salad)
1/2 cup Sutter Home Merlot
2 pounds fresh ground New Zealand lamb
Rocket Salad
2 Tbsp Colavita aged balsamic vinegar
1 bunch of arugula (rocket)
1 oz aged parmigiano-reggiano
Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 whole wheat Kaiser rolls, split


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. In a non-stick frying pan placed on the grill, cook the bacon until just crispy. Drain the cooked bacon on paper towels keeping the slices flat and set aside. Pour off the majority of bacon fat from the pan, retaining about 2 Tbsp. Peel onions and grate part of one to yield about 6 Tbsp. Place the grated onion and juice in a small bowl and set aside. Chop the remaining onions to a very coarse dice and sauté slowly in the bacon fat, stirring intermittently, until they are lightly caramelized (about 5-6 minutes). Tamp the caramelized onions on a paper towel and set aside to cool. To make the Tangy Avocado Chutney, peel the Kiwi fruit, and puree in a food processor. Pass the puree through a sieve fine enough to remove the seeds but coarse enough to allow the majority of the pulp to pass through. Seed and peel the avocados and chop into 1/2 inch cubes. Finely dice the dried apricots with half of the caramelized onions and combine with 1/2 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp olive oil, the avocados and Kiwi fruit puree. Stir gently, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. To make the patties, grind the pretzels in a food processor until they are the consistency of rough cornmeal. Peel 4 cloves of garlic and crush in a garlic press. In a bowl, combine the pretzel crumbs, with 2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp fresh ground pepper, the grated onions, crushed garlic and the merlot. Add the ground lamb to the combined ingredients and mix well, handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form each into 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick patties. Refrigerate the patties for at least 1 hour to fully mature the flavors. To make the rocket salad, begin by making a vinaigrette. Peel the remaining clove of garlic and crush with the flat side of a knife. In a small jar, place 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 4 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 fresh ground pepper and the garlic. Shake well and set aside. Wash the arugula (rocket) to remove any grit, dry well and remove the stems. Chop the bacon into pieces of approximately 1 inch square. Shave or coarsely grate the parmigiano-reggiano and combine with the arugula and bacon. Shake the vinaigrette well and toss with the rocket salad when ready to assemble the burgers. Assembling the Burgers Prepare the medium-hot grill by brushing the rack liberally with vegetable oil. Lightly toast inside surface of the split Kaiser rolls on the grill, put the roll halves back together and keep on the grill away from the fire so they stay warm. Dress the rocket salad. Place the lamb patties on the rack and cook covered for 3-4 minutes until browned with nice grill marks. Turn the patties over and cook for a further 3-5 minutes until internal temperature is 140-160 degrees Fahrenheit (medium-rare to well done) depending on preference. To assemble the burgers, place a generous handful of rocket salad on the bottom half of each toasted Kaiser roll. Place the lamb patty on the bed of salad and top with 1/6 of the tangy avocado chutney. Cover the burgers with the roll tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers


The piquant nature of the arugula and the creamy tartness of the avocado chutney are an elegant foil for the aromatic qualities of the lamb. The flavors in this burger meld into a delightfully balanced taste experience that will appeal to a wide audience.