Monday, November 1, 2010

Lamb Burgers with Figs, Caramelized Onions & Blue Cheese


Once upon a time... probably in late September... I spied a luscious looking pint of fresh Turkish figs at the market. And I was smitten.

For some (and maybe I should include myself here), figs are a nearly religious experience.  And it's no wonder. Succulent, sweet, and amazingly beautiful, the fig has a long history of adoration.  The fig tree was a common theme in the Bible, and the Egyptians considered figs to be sacred, often burying the dead with baskets of figs. Even the tale of how the infamous Mission figs made it to the U.S. has everything to do with the Franciscan monks from Spain who filled their pockets with figs and journeyed to San Diego, California to plant them.

Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually a flower that is inverted into itself. California fig season runs from Mid-May right into December -- though the peak of the season generally hits between July & September when all four varieties of figs (Brown Turkey, Black Mission, Kadota, & Calimyrna) are available.  Although they're widely available throughout the United States (thanks to the advances in food transportation -- both good and bad), we consider figs a special treat.  And because we can't grow figs ourselves here in Wisconsin, they have a particularly irresistible mystique.

I have a number of "favorite" ways to enjoy seasonal fresh figs -- wrapped with crispy bacon, chopped and added to cakes, or served simply with a dollop of Greek yogurt and honey. But, I also look forward to the opportunity to make these delicious burgers.

The burger itself is crazy simple -- a combination of freshly ground lamb, chopped fresh figs, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a dash of cumin, salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic. But, when the burger is topped with with caramelized onions and a bit of crumbled blue cheese -- wow. Reminiscent of a Mediterranean lamb stew with figs & red wine, these sandwiches were a treat that made us redefine what we think about weeknight burgers.

The sweetness of the figs & caramelized onions plays off of the rustic, assertive flavor of the lamb. And the saltiness of crumbled blue cheese makes every bite really snap.

Perfect with a side of crispy oven baked zucchini fries.

Lamb Burgers with Figs, Caramelized Onions & Blue Cheese
Baked Zucchini Fries

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14 comments:

  1. Looks great. I prefer ground lamb to ground beef so this is right up my alley. I wonder how fig preserves would work.

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  2. Oh my gosh, we're on the same wavelength (sort of). I was just scanning the internet for a recipe to make an Indian spice blend as I want to make some kind of Moroccan stew. This lamb burger of yours looks a bit like a Moroccan-style burger. I think I'll add figs to my stew as that sounds amazing. I was going to add currents, but you've inspired me to change my thoughts from currents to figs. I can always count on you for a bit of an unexpected twist in recipes. Thanks! Happy fall, my quirky friend. =)
    Melissa

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  3. This looks delish! I've always wanted to make a lamb burger but I have no idea where to find lamb. Where did you get it? Specialty butcher?

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  4. Katie - We buy our lamb at Outpost Natural Foods. Not only is it local, but it's naturally raised (meaning:Raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones, Humanely raised in a minimal stress environment, Given free access to the outdoors, Fed 100% vegetarian feed, and Never irradiated). Great stuff!

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  5. When you talked about how figs were a religious experience, I moaned in agreement. So so true. I have heard of cooking lamb burgers before with fig jam but I really like the use of raw figs here. Sounds fantastic.

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  6. "Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually a flower that is inverted into itself"...I always learn something over here.

    I'm nodding. Love figs. They're pretty too, no? One of my favorite sandwiches has figs, goat cheese, and caramelized onions. Eating that is also a religious experience.

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  7. Amen to your figgy lamb burgers! Is that rye bread? Is Outpost your source for the figs also? Great post.

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  8. Lamb, fresh figs, and caramelized onions - three of my favorite things. Want to send one over here?

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  9. Margie -
    Actually, the bread was a rosemary olive loaf. Figs also came from Outpost -- and they were a steal! $1.99/pint for organic figs. YUM.

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  10. Figs in a burger?! I am so trying this!

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  11. What a great idea! I have a ton of dried figs in my pantry, so this would be a great way to utilize some of them. Thank you for sharing!

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  12. Sounds incredible! I have yet to see fresh figs up here in VT, but I used to get them seasonally when we were in FL. The good news is we butchered our first lamb today, which means lamb burgers are on the menu!

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  13. Well, as you know I can't really comment on the lamb (I do realize I'm missing a whole dimension of cooking by not eating meat)but I heartily approve of the figs and the bleu. It actually took me awhile to warm up to fresh figs (and don't get me started on dried fruit - I'm a strange foodie)but I had them with harissa and that hooked me. Anyway, this sounds like a divine food experience -- Simon is lusting after the lamb (he's vegetarian except for lamb and bacon) and is trying to convince me to give it a try....

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