Drunken Fig and Caramelized Onion Burger

Pairs well with:


Bright and full-bodied, this Zinfandel wine is a curious contradiction in tastes.

This dish was inspired by an appetizer I make at home. The combination of the sweet of the Moscato wine and the figs along with savory of the onions and the salty Manchego cheese delivers amazing and complex flavors.


Caramelized Onions
• 3 large Vidalia onions, cut in half and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
• 1/4 cup light olive oil
• 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 3 Tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar (preferably St. Helena’s from Dean and Deluca)
Wine Braised Figs
• 20 fresh black mission figs (or dried mission figs if fresh are not available)
• 2/3 cup Sutter Home Moscato Wine
• 2 pounds lean ground beef
• 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt or fresh ground sea salt
• 6 thick slices of Manchego Cheese

• Canola oil, for brushing on the grill rack
• 6 fresh rolls of Ciabatta bread (about 5″ x 4″ in size), split
• 1/2 cup melted butter


Preheat a gas grill to high.

To make the caramelized onions, combine the onion, oil, salt and pepper in a 14-inch or 16-inch fire-proof skillet. Cook the onion mixture for 15-17 minutes, then add in sugar, thyme and fig balsamic vinegar and cook another 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized. Remove the pan from the grill, cover and set aside. Reserve 1/3 cup to use in the burger mixture.

To make the wine braised figs, cut the figs in half and place cut side down into 12-inch fire-proof skillet. Pour wine in with figs and cook until wine has reduced by 2/3. Remove the pan from the grill, cover and set aside.

To make the patties chop the 1/3 cup reserved onions and mix into the lean beef, salt and pepper in a large bowl, handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Quickly shape the beef mixture into 6 rectangular equally-sized (about 5.5 oz) patties to fit the size and shape of the ciabatta bread rolls. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until ready to grill.

Turn grill temperature to medium high heat.

When all the other elements are complete and the grill is ready for the burgers, brush the grill rack with canola oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once. Grill until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. Add a slice of Manchego cheese in the last 1 minute of cooking to melt.

Meanwhile, brush the melted butter on the cut side of the ciabatta bread. Turn the heat of the grill down to medium low and position the bread, cut side down, and grill 1-2 minutes to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, place the burger on the bun bottom followed by an equal portion of caramelized onions, equal portion of the figs; add the bun tops and serve.