I learned to preserve and can all at once. And of course I learned from a master, well her cookbook at least. As I spent the summer of 2015 recipe testing Deep Run Roots by Chef Vivian Howard, I preserved and canned. Her mission is to take southern food created with southern traditions and tell their stories. This book taught me so much about cooking and about the traditions of my people. My southern roots run deep too.
What’s special about these fig preserves is their wholeness. Chef Vivian guides us to make these whole preserves by being ever so gentle with this delicate fruit. I did as she insisted, but was a little skeptical. Fig preserves have never been my favorite, but after my summer with the Howard clan in Deep Run, NC, I came home and on a September evening I toasted some bread and tried these whole fig preserves. They have changed my expectations of what preserved fruit should be. The recipe is simple, the canning even easier, but the taste, the taste is amazing. When August comes around again this summer, I’ll be putting up some figs for sure.
This burger takes it’s inspiration from Vivian’s figs and a little boost from a contest by Valley Fig Growers and America’s Test Kitchen. Nothing like a good contest to get my recipe creating juices flowing. This recipe pairs figs and a savory burger with the tang of blue cheese and peppery arugula pesto. These burger sliders will be a go to appetizer that will amaze your biggest, “Fig on a burger?” skeptic. Make these, right after you preserve those figs!
- ½ cup olive oil, and some for frying
- ½ cup packed arugula
- 1 peeled garlic clove
- ¼ cup toasted walnuts
- ¼ cup blue cheese
- 1 anchovy fillet
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1½ tbsp dijon mustard, divided
- ½ tsp salt, divided
- ½ tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
- ½ lb ground chuck
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 4 whole preserved figs, cut in half
- 8 mini slider buns
- Place the first seven ingredients plus 1½ tsp dijon, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper in a blender or small food processor and blend until you have a smooth, but slightly chunky pesto, about 2 minutes. pulsing. Reserve.
- Place a 10-12 inch cast iron skillet on medium high heat with a drizzle of olive oil.
- In a separate bowl place the ground chuck, 1 tbsp dijon, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, and the worcestershire sauce. By hand, work the meat to blend all the ingredients. Make 8 small patties and cook then in the skillet for 2-3 minutes per side or until you desired doneness.
- To serve- place about 1tbsp of pesto on each bun with a burger and half of a whole preserved fig.
- Pass around to friends and hear them oh and ah.