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‘Top Chef’ Star Eric Adjepong Tops his Lamb Burgers With a Yassa Jam

The fan-favorite finalist shows off his Ghanaian roots in everything he cooks

On the Kentucky season of Top Chef, finalist Eric Adjepong very easily won over TV audiences with dishes that were rooted in his Ghanaian heritage, often with twists on familiar standbys using indigenous West African ingredients.

As Adjepong told Eater DC, the most poignant thing he learned since Top Chef — both from the show and from the West African cooking classes he and his wife Janell Adjepong have hosted — was that people were genuinely excited about the food. It was the jolt he needed to start working on a doubles concept in DC.

So Adjepong is taking over Eater’s Instagram Live as part of Eater at Home to show off how he prepares a lamb burger topped with a yassa “jam” (yassa is a Senegalese dish typically prepared with onions, lemon, and mustard). Check out the recipes for the lamb burger, yassa jam, a garlic aioli, and spiced fries below.

Yassa Jam-Topped Lamb Burgers and Baked Fries

Serves 4


For the lamb burger:
1 pound ground lamb
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon garlic powder
4 hamburger buns
1 ½ tablespoon Kosher salt

For the yassa onion jam:
4 tablespoons butter
3 small to medium onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
50 grams (a little over 3 tablespoons) ginger, diced small
4 heads of garlic
3 bunches fresh thyme
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, white, or champagne vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon turmeric
12 teaspoon ground coriander
Olive oil as needed

For the baked fries:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds (about 4) Yukon gold potatoes
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
12 teaspoon fresh dill
14 teaspoon onion powder
14 teaspoon ground black pepper
Fresh chives

For the roasted garlic aioli:
12 cup olive oil-based mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
5 to 7 roasted garlic cloves (adjust to taste)
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt to taste

Cast-iron skillet
Heavy spatula

Step 1: Make the yassa jam. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tops of the garlic, just enough to expose the cloves but leave the root end intact. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil over the exposed cloves. Layer garlic with fresh thyme and wrap in foil leaving a small hole for steam to release and roast for 35 to 40 minutes. Once cooled, remove the garlic from the cloves (reserving 5 to 7 cloves for aioli). Using a blender, add garlic and ginger and puree with a touch of oil until smooth. Set aside. In an appropriate size pot melt 2 tablespoons of butter and caramelize onions over medium high heat until golden brown (about 20 minutes). Add turmeric, Dijon, vinegar, lemon juice, coriander, and garlic and ginger puree and cook on low for an additional 10 minutes, finish with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Set aside.

Step 2: To make the aioli, use a chef’s knife to smash and puree the roasted garlic into a paste. Whisk together with mayo, Dijon, and lemon juice until well combined. Season with salt and set aside.

Step 3: Place a rack on the lower third of your oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Drizzle a large rimmed baking sheet with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, be sure the pan is nicely coated. Scrub the potatoes and peel if desired (I leave the skin on), and slice into 1/4-inch wide matchsticks. Place the potatoes in a large bowl then pour very hot tap water over the top so that it covers the potatoes by at least 1 inch and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and transfer them to a clean kitchen towel and dry as completely as you can. Add potatoes to a bowl and drizzle with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, dill, onion powder, and pepper and toss to coat, making sure the spices and oil are well distributed. Spread the potatoes into a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until turning golden underneath.

Step 4: Meanwhile, thoroughly mix ground lamb, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together in a bowl and shape into 4 balls. Using a hot cast iron pan (or and outdoor grill) cook the burgers by smashing them with the spatula and using a lot of weight until they are beginning to firm and are hot and slightly pink in the center, about 5 minutes per side. Alternatively cook until desired degree of doneness. Rest burgers while assembling toppings.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, with a large, firm spatula, carefully loosen the fries from the bottom of the pan. Flip them in large sections as best as you can so that the potatoes rotate and brown evenly on all sides (no need to painstakingly flip every single one). With your fingers (be careful — the pan is hot!) return the potatoes to a single layer. Place the pan back in the oven and continue baking until the fries are as golden and crisp as you like, about 5 to 10 additional minutes (30 minutes total was ideal timing for this crispy-fry lover). While the fries are hot, sprinkle with any desired toppings and a bit more salt to taste.

Step 4: Meanwhile, thoroughly mix ground lamb, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together in a bowl; shape into 4 balls. In a hot cast iron pan or grill, cook the burgers by smashing them until they are beginning to firm and are hot and slightly pink in the center, about 5 minutes per side (or until desired degree of doneness). Rest burgers while assembling toppings.