Yep, that title is a mouthful, but so are these burgers. These start with a patty made of ground lamb and Greek spices and are then topped with one of my most favorite cheeses and caramelized onions – that are laced with figs and balsamic vinegar. Yup.
The burgers are more like meatballs than typical burger patties. They are made in a similar way to Greek keftedes, where the bread is soaked in milk and grated onion and an egg are added. All of these steps ensure a juicy burger. Then, you have the addition of oregano, parsley, and allspice – all common ingredients in Greek cuisine and ones I use myself to make my lamb burgers – packing the patties with flavor.
Figs are currently in season (hello, best time of the year), so I’d imagine you could use them in place of the dried figs here (skipping the soaking of course). They will likely break apart a bit more, but that just means more fig flavor in each bite. As it stands, though, the jam is great with dried figs and those are relatively easy to find year-round.
I made the onion-fig jam the night before, and mixed up the patty mixture in the morning before work so that when I got home, all I needed to do was shape and cook them. They turned out pretty perfectly and the leftovers were just as good. My husband actually got a few compliments (and maybe a few jealous looks) when he was eating his at work the next day.
Lamb Burgers with Smoked Gouda and Onion-Fig Jam
Adapted from Kalofagas
1.5 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
6 dried figs
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 slice of sandwich bread
2-3 Tbsp. milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1.25 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1 – 1.25 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 medium onion, grated
1.25 lbs. ground lamb
4-5 split hamburger buns
4-5 slices of smoked gouda
Additional toppings of your choice
To make the jam:
Place the figs in a small bowl, and cover with hot water. Soak for about 10 minutes, while you slice your onions and prep other things. Remove the figs from the water, but keep the soaking liquid. Remove the stems and coarsely chop the figs.
In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, and add the onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add a splash of the water you used to soak the figs, and scrape up any browned bits. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to color.
Add the vinegar, figs, and about 3-4 Tbsp. of the reserved fig water. Simmer, uncovered, until the liquid has thickened and most of it has absorbed, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
To make the patties:
Place the slice of bread in a large bowl. Pour the milk over it, to soak the bread. Let it soak while you gather your ingredients and grate your onions. Then, squeeze out most of the milk from the bread, using your hand. Discard the extra milk, and crumble up the soaked bread back into the bowl. Add the egg, garlic, parsley, allspice, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, grated onion, and lamb. Gently mix until all ingredients are well combined, and shape into 4-5 patties (or 4 patties and 1 toddler patty :)).
Cook the patties on a grill or in a cast iron skillet on the stove top (or under your broiler), for about 4 minutes before flipping. Add a slice of cheese and continue to cook another 4 minutes, or until burgers are done to your liking.
Place the burgers on buns and top with the onion-fig jam and any other toppings you want.