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The Columbia Gorge-ous Basin Valley Burger

I live minutes away from both states, that being Washington and Oregon abundant beautiful growing regions which are split by the Columbia River. Both regions have numerous orchards that grow various fruits(apples, pears, cherries, peaches, apricots) and hazelnuts, plus not far is acres of sweet onion fields where Walla Walla onions are grown. The whole area is called the Columbia Gorge Basin Valley, hence the recipe

Ingredients 

1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 cup peeled, cored and cubed firm pear
1 cup peeled, cored and cubed Granny Smith apple
1-1/2 cups chopped Walla Walla or other sweet onion
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon rough chopped peeled garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2-1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt(divided)
2 tablespoons Colavita extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fig balsamic vinegar(divided)
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 pounds freshly ground chuck
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
6 tablespoons firmly packed blue cheese, preferably Oregon Blue
6 large Brioche buns, split
6 red leaf lettuce leaves

Instructions 

Heat a standard outdoor grill to medium-high direct heat.
Place hazelnuts on a 8-inch long heavy piece of foil with the edges rolled up to form a rim, place on grill rack and shake often until nuts are golden all over about 6 minutes. Transfer nuts to cutting surface, let cool then finely chop, set aside.
Place pears, apples, onions, raisins and garlic down the center of a 18-inch long piece of heavy foil leaving 2-inches on each end. Sprinkle the top of onion mixture with thyme, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Seal top and sides of foil into a long packet then place on grill rack and roast mixture for 20 minutes or until just tender. Remove mixture from foil into a food processor along with the horseradish and mustard, puree until smooth, stir in the chopped hazelnuts and set aside.
In a large bowl mix together the ground chuck, pepper, remaining salt and remaining balsamic vinegar. Divide into 6 portions then form into patties. Make an indentation with your thumb 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch deep in each patty. Shape each tablespoon of blue cheese into 1/2 inch thick disk then place 1 each into center of patty then seal to close and flatten patties to even out thickness. Grill patties until just cooked through or desired degree of doness turning just once. During the last minute of grilling lightly toast cut side of buns. To serve spread onion mixture on bun tops, place burgers on bottom half of buns, top each with a lettuce leaf then close to form burgers. Serves 6

Comments 

Fig balsamic vinegar can be found at gourmet food shops, larger grocery stores or Williams Sonoma stores.