There are many ways to my heart where food is concerned on Valentine's Day. I'm more than satisfied with a shareable plate of pasta, a la "Lady and the Tramp." I'd be delighted with seafood, such as mussels steamed in broth with a side of crusty bread or a date at the local sushi bar. Breakfast in bed is always a win, especially if it includes a strong, thoughtfully brewed cup of coffee. Of course, there's always chocolate. One can never go wrong with something dark and decadent. One of the ways to my fiancee's heart, on the other hand, is a big, sexy burger.
I've had a jar of "fig butter" from Trader Joe's in my pantry since my aunt sent us a care package from California for Christmas. I treasure these specialty items and set them aside for special occasions such as Valentine's Day. Fig butter is essentially fig jam, and both New Sagaya and Summit Spice and Tea Co. in Anchorage carry a comparable fig jam. I called and made sure they had fig jam in stock, just for all of you living in the area. When it comes to sexy food, figs are often ranked near the top, along with finer cheeses, like a nice goat cheese. I've brought both together on this burger. And when choosing the greens for this, I went for the intricate, peppery arugula.
This burger is unexpected and complex, beautiful to behold, as I find is also true of the very best love stories. Happy Valentine's Day.
Burgers with fig jam, goat cheese and arugula
2 large burger buns (like ciabatta), toasted
2/3 pound ground beef
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 cup arugula
2 tablespoons fig jam
Preheat the broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Divide the ground beef into two 1/3-pound patties, just slightly larger in circumference than the bun. Generously season each side of the patties with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Broil the burgers for about 5 minutes on one side, then remove the pan from the oven and flip the burgers. Return the pan to the broiler for another 5 minutes, or until cooked through to your desired temperature (I like my burgers medium in the center).
In the last 90 seconds of cooking, top each patty with 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese to allow the cheese to begin to melt. Remove the burgers from the oven and place each patty onto a toasted bottom bun. Place a handful of arugula on top of each patty. Spread a tablespoon of fig jam onto each of the toasted top buns, then place the buns on top of the burgers. Enjoy promptly.
Maya Wilson lives in Kenai and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com. Have a food question or recipe request? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your inquiry may appear in a future column.