(pictured here with little bags of mini-pierogies in lieu of french fries)
Food inspires me. I assume it is much like an artist who sees flowers in full bloom and immediately needs to paint; or a musician who can find a song in the morning chirps of early rising birds.
It is never just an easy task to go to the market. Multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, cheeses of every color and texture, loaves of artesenal bread – all begging for a place in my belly and my brain explodes with ideas.
When you look at this picture, what do you see?
If you’re normal you probably see some chopped kielbasa, green peppers, and onions. Me? What did I see? I saw a burger. I saw this clear as day in my head:
I needed to make it happen.
I knew I wanted to give a nod to the traditional meal of sausage and sauerkraut (except without sauerkraut because sauerkraut is made from the intestines of Satan himself) but with a little tinkering.
My first thought was grinding kielbasa up - but my friend Dave from The Twitter made me reconsider the possible final texture of the burger. So I made these with ground pork, using similar seasonings found in sausage, but toned down to let the toppings shine.
Chopping kielbasa and vegetables for a paella led to this. While some wonderful people are out making a difference in the world, I’m sketching a burger that gives me an excuse to eat pierogies like french fries. Sigh.
Since this does have a few elements, feel free to make the toppings the night before, reheating before topping. You can also keep the applesauce mustard in the refrigerator until assembling the burgers.
For the Most Complicated Difficult Spread You’ve Ever Made for a Burger:
- 1/4 cup of grainy mustard
- 2 heaping Tablespoons of applesauce
Mix the mustard and applesauce together and set aside until ready to use. Wipe your brow and collapse in exhaustion.
Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage:
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon bacon fat
- 4 cups shredded red cabbage
- 3 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- salt and pepper
In a large pan, melt the butter and bacon fat together. Add in the cabbage and toss with the fat to coat evenly. Cook over low heat for 8 minutes stirring occasionally, until the cabbage begins to wilt gently. Measure out the vinegars and dump in the pan, along with the sugar, tossing to coat.
Allow the cabbage to simmer on the stove over low heat for about half an hour until soft. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste, also readjusting your sugar and vinegar if necessary.
If storing over night, place in a storage container until ready to reheat. Otherwise, keep the cabbage in the pan for topping the burgers, heating through if needed before using.
Beer Buttered Caramelized Onions and Green Peppers:
- 1 Tablespoon of butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large yellow or white onions, sliced thinly
- 1 small green pepper, sliced very thinly
- 1/4 cup of German beer (I used Dunkel)
While cooking the cabbage, melt the butter into the olive oil in a separate pan over medium low heat. Add the onions and peppers, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and caramelized, which will take about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat up to medium and add the beer and cook until the beer has reduced and mostly evaporated.
If storing over night, place in a storage container until ready to reheat. Otherwise, keep the onions in the pan for topping the burgers, heating through if needed before using.
For the Pork Burgers:
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1 Tablespoon apple sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1/2 teaspoon Worchestire Sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- Few drops of hot sauce (optional)
- Few drops of liquid smoke (optional – but delicious as I do not have a smoker)
- Cheese for serving if desired (and it was)
- 4 twister rolls/pretzel rolls/burger buns
Mix the ingredients together in a large bowl with your hands. Do not over mix or the burgers will be tough. Form the meat into four patties, not too thick.
I also did a mini test patty in my skillet just to test the flavors before cooking all of the patties.
Because it is so hot, I did these indoors in a skillet over-medium high heat. Feel free to use your grill! Cook them for 6-8 minutes per side until they were no longer pink inside. Right before the patties are done top them with cheese, if using, and cover the pan with a lid to gently melt the cheese.
Put a schmear of your applesauce mustard on each side of the bun. Top with your burger pattie, top with the onions and peppers, then the sweet and sour cabbage. Top with the other end of the bun and dive head first into glory.