Makes 4 burgers
I have been fretting lately about my city’s inexcusable lack of interesting food inspired by German cuisine. For those German bars that serve up pretzels with eight separate mustards, ich libe dich, but sometimes I need to swoon over more than your flat palettes of yellows and browns. I’m not expecting anything like The Generator (although, Philadelphia, you’re not doing so badly, yourself), but, come on, Germans were some of the earliest immigrants to the Pacific Northwest, and yet we struggle to incorporate their food traditions into our own, insisting on keeping them separate from the others, like some black sheep we don’t want mingling with our prized flock. We hide them in stained-wood bars, below the sidewalk, or at the bottom of menus.
Well, not today. It’s sunny today, so I decided to barbecue. In the fridge are jars of curried sauerkraut I made back in December when the green cabbage was sweet and crisp. But, since January, I’ve hardly touched the stuff. You see, I too have been struggling to incorporate the German food into my diet, even that one that’s insanely good for you. I guess that fermented cabbage never sounds good with black beans or salad or pizza.
Then it hit me: I was making the same excuses as my city. Well, guess what? Sauerkraut is not meant for only sausages and potatoes! And, if you give me a chance, I’ll show you why…
FIRST, MAKE YOUR POMEGRANATE-ONION JAM
In a (preferably stainless steel) skillet, set over medium-high heat, add…
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
When it’s hot, add…
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
Shake them around and cook them evenly until they’re translucent and beginning to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add…
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/4 cup pomegranate vinegar
- 5 tsp. brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. water
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. nigella seed
- 1/2 tsp. brown mustard seed
Stir together and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Stir. Turn the heat down to the gentlest flame. Half-cover for 40-50 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until sticky and deep maroon verging on brown-black. You want to caramelize the onion, but you don’t want to burn it. You can achieve this by being diligent about stirring it. Add a teaspoon or two of water, if you want. Finish with a splash of wine and vinegar to brighten it up. Reduce for a minute. Remove from heat. You should be left with about a half-cup of onion jam. Cover and chill it in the fridge. Best done the day before so as to let the flavors come together overnight.
NOW…You can leave the jam here, and that is fine, since it will titillate and delight the senses just the same. But, what I suggest is this. Spoon the jam into a food processor with a tablespoon of mayo and blitz it. This will homogenize and emulsify everything, giving you a silky, beautiful, spreadable treasure. You’ll see. This is the stuff of obsession.
NEXT, MAKE YOUR BURGER PATTIES
In a large mixing bowl, combine…
- 1/2 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 lb. fresh bratwurst sausage (squeezed out from links)
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground yellow mustard
- 1/2 tsp. garlic granules
Mix everything together with your hands until fully combined. Break off a small chunk and fry it up to see whether the flavors are where you want them. When you have it, form into 4-ounce patties.
THEN, PREPARE YOUR CONDIMENTS
Get the following ready…
- Kaiser roll
- Cambozola cheese, sliced
- Pomegranate-Onion Jam
*You can use regular white sauerkraut. But, if you’re adventurous, take that same white sauerkraut and add a pinch of turmeric, coriander, caraway seed, and chili flakes to it, and then mix it together until nice and yellow.
Grill your burgers how you like them. Add the cambozola cheese while still cooking so as to get it gooey. Meanwhile, toast your bun and set it up with your condiments. Bring it all together into a beautiful Bachian grill-maestro triumph, alongside some pureed roots, a huge salad, and a Pacific Northwest ISA.
Photos by the beautiful and magnificently talented Lori Paulson