RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Big Deutsche Burger

My heritage is German and so I thought it would be fun to incorporate traditional German flavors into an American favorite.
Since German flavors can be "heavy", I challenged myself to keep everything light in keeping with a summer barbecue theme. My grandmother, who recently passed away, was definitely a culinary influence on me. She was such an adventurous eater. I decided that any recipe I created this year would be in her honor. This burger creation has so many flavors and spices that she loved, most especially the potatoes, sauerkraut and caraway. I hope you enjoy this taste of Germany as much as I enjoyed creating it!


4 tsp pickling spice
8 juniper berries
1 cup frozen southern style hash browns or diced baked potatoes
1/2 cup yellow onion
3/4 cup diced cooked bacon
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup Sutter Home Gewürztraminer
2 pounds ground chuck

Horseradish Mustard:
3 TB spicy brown mustard
2 TB prepared horseradish

Sauerkraut Salad:
1 cup sauerkraut, undrained
1/4 savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium kohlrabi, peeled, shredded
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 tsp caraway seed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Beet Relish:
1 cup pickled beets, sliced
2 tsp fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup sour cream
salt to taste

Liptauer-style Cheese:
1 tsp poppy seeds
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz goat cheese log, room temperature
1 tsp paprika
salt to taste

6 slices day-old pumpernickel bread
6 Kaiser buns, split


Preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

In a spice grinder, process pickling spice and juniper berries until a powder. Pour spice mixture into a large bowl. Add potatoes, onion, bacon, salt, pepper, and Gewürztraminer. Thoroughly mix together until spices are well distributed throughout. Add ground chuck and mix until just combined with other ingredients. Divide mixture into 6 portions. Form into patties that are similar to bun size. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

To prepare the horseradish mustard, thoroughly mix mustard and horseradish together in a small bowl. Cover and set aside. Next, make the sauerkraut salad by combining in a large bowl, the sauerkraut with any accumulated juice, savoy cabbage, and kohlrabi. Add onion, caraway seed, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Cover and set aside.

To prepare the beet relish, mix together sliced pickled beets and dill in a medium bowl. Stir in sour cream until combined. Cover and set aside.

Finally, to make the Liptauer-style cheese, put a small heavy fire-proof skillet on the grill. Add the poppy seeds and toast for 2 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to evenly toast the seeds. Remove from grill. In a medium bowl, mash together cream cheese and goat cheese. Add paprika and toasted poppy seeds. Stir to combine. Add salt to taste. Cover and set aside.

Using a circular 3" cookie cutter, cut out a round from each of the pumpernickel slices. Using a wine bottle or rolling pin, roll each round to flatten. Place rounds on outside edge of grill and toast until crispy, 2-3 minutes. Set rounds aside on a paper towel.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, close/replace cover and cook, turning once, until preferred doneness is reached, 5-7 minutes per side for medium. During the last 2 minutes of grilling, place the buns cut sides down, on the outer edges of the rack to lightly toast.

To assemble the burgers, divide Liptauer-style cheese on bun bottoms and spread. Top cheese with patties, then evenly divide sauerkraut salad on the patties. Place a pumpernickel round on the sauerkraut salad. Top rounds with equal portions of the beet relish. Smear cut side of bun tops with horseradish mustard and place tops on beet relish. Serve immediately. Polka dancing, optional.


Even though this recipe seems lengthy, it really is a series of easy projects. The patties are made first so they can "marinate" in their sauerbraten-inspired flavors. Then the other toppings are made and set aside to allow their flavors to marry. This is definitely a fun recipe for a cook-out because each step can be divided up among the guests who are probably lingering in the kitchen anyway! What a great way to get everyone involved.