Buffalo-Cambozola Burger

2 pounds ground buffalo (bison)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced across the grain
Chopped leaves from 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted
2 to 3 dried black mission figs
1 tablespoon balsamic cream (available at many well-stocked markets and online)
6 ounces cambozola cheese (available at select well-stocked markets, cheese stores and online)
6 kaiser hamburger buns
1 1/2 cups watercress or arugula leaves

In a large bowl, combine the meat with the salt and pepper. Mix to season, then divide meat into 6 even portions. Shape portions into patties, and set them aside to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, cover and continue to cook until onions turn golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in remaining oil, the chopped rosemary and garlic. Cook, stirring until fragrant, then remove from heat and set aside.

While onion is cooking, in a small saucepan combine the dates and figs. Add 1/2 cup water and bring to a simmer. Cook 10 to 15 minutes until mixture is thickened and reduced, then break up dates and figs using back of a spoon. Continue cooking, adding additional water if needed, until mixture is reduced to consistency of jam. Stir in the balsamic cream. Stir fig-and-date mixture into onions. Taste and season as desired with salt and pepper. Return pan to low heat and cook, stirring until well-combined. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place. This makes about 1 1/2 cups jam.

About 15 minutes before assembling burgers, place the cheese in freezer to firm it up for slicing.

Heat a grill or skillet over medium-high heat. Warm or toast the buns as desired. Lightly oil grill and cook burgers for 2 to 3 minutes on each side for medium, or as desired, careful not to overcook.

Remove cheese from freezer and slice into 6 thick (1-ounce) slices. To assemble burgers, place a hot burger patty on bottom of each bun and top with a slice of cheese. Add a dollop of the fig, date and onion jam to top of each cheese slice and top with some of the watercress. Top with remaining bun half and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

— Recipe from Debbie Pappalau, Westlake Village, Calif.

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