Cooking with Chefs: Lowell Burger Company
Lowell Burger Co.
One of chef Nick Speros’ earliest food memories is of his Greek grandmother cooking for him, his two brothers and all the neighborhood kids in Cambridge. If one of Speros’ friends didn’t like it, she would say, “Eat or get out.” That’s where his love of cooking began, and learning in such an environment “taught me food can be very nurturing, loving and satisfying in so many ways,” he says.
Early in his career, Speros worked at various restaurants as a waiter and bartender before taking a job at Mirabelles Café & Bakery in Boston, where the chef encouraged him to attend culinary school.
While working for Boston-based Project Bread, a nonprofit that addresses child hunger, he met his business partner, Tobias Marx. Together, they opened Lowell Burger Co.
While he was growing up, Speros’ family would eat traditional Greek food around the holidays. As the years went on, Speros’ cooking became increasingly unconventional. One of his favorite Thanksgiving dishes was braised pork shoulder and deboned turkey thighs, rolled up and basted in apple cider and maple syrup. “It was so desperately untraditional,” he says, recounting how the turkey thighs were like candy.
To highlight the balance between tradition and innovation, Speros has shared his aunt’s heretofore secret recipe for Greek meatballs, along with a variation on Lowell Burger Co.’s famous Greek Boy — a mouthwatering burger made with lamb and mint.
Greek Boy Lamb Burger
1/2 cup strained Greek yogurt
1/4 cup cucumber, grated with the juice squeezed out
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
25 small grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup Greek feta, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, finely sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons Greek olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
24 ounces ground lamb
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 potato burger buns
1. In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice and kosher salt to create tzatziki sauce. Mix well. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2. In another medium bowl, combine tomatoes, feta, parsley, oregano, olive oil, 2 to 3 drops of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Combine carefully and set aside.
3. Preheat griddle to 375 F. Divide and shape ground lamb into four 6-ounce patties. Season both sides of the lamb patty with salt and pepper.
4. Slice potato buns in half and place on one side of the griddle.
5. Carefully place lamb patties on the oiled griddle. Do not move patties for 4 minutes. Once the first side is browned, flip patty. Cook on the other side 3 minutes for medium-rare, 3 1/2 minutes for medium, or 4 minutes for medium-well.
6. Remove patties from griddle and let rest for 2 minutes. Remove buns from griddle.
7. Dress buns with tzatziki. Reheat patties on griddle for 30 seconds. Place patty on the bun, topping with tomato feta salad and thinly-sliced red onion.
Greek Meatballs (Keftedes)
Servings: 10 to 12
1 pound ground beef
1 cup canola oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons mint
1. In a large bowl, combine by hand the ground beef, oil, onions, seasoned bread crumbs, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and mint. Cover and let mixture sit in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Form the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls, about 30.
3. Season a cast-iron pan with canola oil. Over medium heat, fry the meatballs for 3 minutes per side.
Lowell Burger Co.