Spicy Lamb Grinder / Basque Sandwich

The Spicy Lamb Grinder is a popular sandwich in Boise, Idaho and it’s loaded with slices of juicy lamb, onion, and jalapenos covered with melted pepperjack cheese dipped in a savory au jus.

spicy lamb grinder

If you find yourself in Idaho and craving a taste of something truly special, look no further than the spicy lamb grinder. This Basque-inspired sandwich, made famous by Bar Gernika in Boise, is a mouthwatering delight that combines bold flavors with hearty ingredients.

From its tender, spicy lamb to its crusty bread, the spicy lamb grinder is a culinary masterpiece that will leave you craving more with each bite.

Why You’ll Love This:

The spicy lamb grinder is a feast for the senses, boasting a perfect balance of heat, flavor, and texture. Whether you’re a fan of spicy cuisine or simply looking to explore the rich culinary heritage of Idaho, this sandwich is sure to delight your taste buds and leave you craving another bite.


spicy lamb grinder

What Kitchen Tools Are Needed For This Recipe:

To make the spicy lamb grinder, you’ll need a few basic kitchen tools:

  • Skillet or grill pan for cooking the lamb
  • Chef’s knife for slicing vegetables
  • Cutting board
  • Spatula for flipping the lamb
  • Oven or toaster for toasting the bread
  • Optional: Panini press for pressing the sandwich

What Ingredients Are Needed:

For the spicy lamb grinder, gather the following ingredients:

  • Ground lamb
  • Spices (such as cumin, paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder)
  • Olive oil
  • Hoagie rolls or French bread
  • Tomato
  • Onion
  • Lettuce
  • Optional toppings: sliced jalapeños, roasted red peppers, or pickled onions

How To Make It:

  • In a bowl, mix the ground lamb with spices of your choice. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Cook the seasoned lamb in the skillet until browned and cooked through, breaking it apart with a spatula as it cooks.
  • While the lamb is cooking, slice the hoagie rolls or French bread in half lengthwise and toast them in the oven or toaster until golden brown.
  • Once the lamb is cooked, assemble the sandwiches by layering the cooked lamb, sliced tomato, onion, lettuce, and any optional toppings on the toasted bread.
  • If desired, press the sandwiches in a Panini press until the bread is crisp and the ingredients are heated through.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!

Helpful Tips:

  • Customize the spice level of the lamb by adjusting the amount of chili powder and other spices to suit your taste preferences.
  • For extra flavor, marinate the lamb in olive oil and spices for a few hours before cooking.
  • Use fresh, high-quality ingredients for the best-tasting sandwich.
  • Don’t skip the toasting step for the bread, as it adds a delicious crunch to the sandwich.

History Behind This Recipe:

The spicy lamb grinder has its origins in the Basque Country of Spain, where it is known as a “txorizo” sandwich. When Basque immigrants settled in Idaho in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they brought their culinary traditions with them, including this flavorful sandwich.

Bar Gernika, a beloved Basque restaurant in Boise, is credited with popularizing the spicy lamb grinder in Idaho. Since opening its doors in 1991, Bar Gernika has been serving up authentic Basque cuisine, including this iconic sandwich, to hungry patrons from near and far.

Substitutions And Variations:

  • Swap out the ground lamb for ground beef or turkey if desired.
  • Experiment with different spice blends to customize the flavor of the lamb.
  • Add additional toppings such as avocado, bacon, or cheese for extra indulgence.
  • Serve the sandwich on a different type of bread, such as ciabatta or sourdough, for a unique twist.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Can I Make This Sandwich Ahead Of Time?

While it’s best enjoyed fresh, you can prepare the components of the sandwich ahead of time and assemble it just before serving.

Is This Sandwich Spicy?

The level of spiciness can be adjusted to your liking by controlling the amount of chili powder and other spices used in the lamb.

Can I Grill The Lamb Instead Of Cooking It In A Skillet?

Absolutely! Grilling the lamb will add a delicious smoky flavor to the sandwich.

Storage Instructions:

If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat the sandwich in a toaster oven or oven until heated through before serving for the best taste and texture.

The spicy lamb grinder at Bar Gernika is a real winner in Boise’s food scene. Packed with tasty lamb, crunchy veggies, and hearty bread, it’s a sandwich you gotta try. Whether you swing by the restaurant or whip it up at home, you’re in for a treat that brings a slice of Basque culture right to your plate.

spicy lamb grinder

Spicy Lamb Grinder

Author: Maddy & JD – Them Bites
The Spicy Lamb Grinder is a popular sandwich in Boise, Idaho and it's loaded with slices of juicy lamb, onion, and jalapenos covered with melted pepperjack cheese dipped in a savory au jus.
No ratings yet
Course dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 3 sandwiches
Calories 84 kcal


For the Lamb

  • 1 lb bone-in lamb leg steak
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove smashed
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano
  • 1 sprig rosemary

Everything Else

  • 2 tbsp onion minced
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper thinly sliced
  • ¼ – ½ cup sliced pickled jalapenos
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 6 sliced pepperjack cheese
  • 3 6 inch sub rolls sliced lengthwise

Recipe Instructions

For the Lamb Steak

  • Heavily season steak with salt and pepper. Sit out and allow to come to room temp for 30 minutes.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add oil. Once hot, place your steak in the skillet. Sear until golden brown, roughly 2 – 3 minutes. Then flip and sear the other side for a minute.
  • Lower the heat to medium. Add butter, garlic and fresh herbs. Occasionally spoon some of the butter over the steak. Flip and baste the other side.
  • Remove from the pan and set steak aside to rest. Keep herbs and garlic in the skillet and keep on medium.
  • After 15 minutes, thinly slice against the grain.

For the Au Jus

  • Add more butter if the pan is dry. Add minced onion and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, about 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Add red wine and bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes to reduce. Next, add the broth. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low for a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt as necessary.
  • Place a small strainer over a bowl and dump the au jus into the bowl. Wipe out any excess moisture and return the skillet to a medium heat.

Everything Else

  • Butter both sides of your rolls and place in pan. Toast for a few minutes until golden brown. Remove from heat.
  • Add oil to the hot pan and add your bell pepper and onion. Sauté for a few minutes until soft and add salt and pepper.
  • Add in jalapenos, based upon desired heat level. Next, add in thinly sliced lamb, tossing evenly with the vegetables. Divide into three portions and top with two pieces of cheese each. Lower heat to medium low and cover with a lid or baking sheet for 2 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and carefully scoop your lamb and vegetable mixture to a toasted bun. Enjoy with the au jus for dipping.


Calories: 84kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 3gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 339mgPotassium: 234mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 198IUVitamin C: 35mgCalcium: 61mgIron: 1mg
Keyword spicy lamb grinder
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