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The Blue Ribbon Bratwurst Burger with Slovak-style Onions and Sauerkraut

This recipe comes blends my Wisconsin and Slovak heritages. The bratwurst is cooked in the traditional Wisconsin way – boiled in beer and onions. The sauerkraut, with bacon and onions is similar to the traditional Slovak noodles recipe my grandmother used to make.

Ingredients 

1 large Vidalia onion
1/2 pounds of  pre-cooked bratwurst (3 bratwurst)
4 12 ounce bottles of beer (enough to cover the bratwurst in the pot)
2 12 ounce cans lemon/lime soda
 1/3 pound bacon (6 slices)
14 ounces bottled sauerkraut
2 tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds Black Angus ground beef
6 slices Baby Swiss cheese thinly sliced
Vegetable Oil, for brushing on the rack
6 Kaiser rolls
Horseradish mustard

Instructions 

Preparing Bratwurst: Slice ½ the onion coarsely and place into a medium pot and saute on medium/low heat for two minutes. While the onion is cooking prick each bratwurst with a fork (ten times) as this allows the beer to soak into the bratwurst. When the onion is finished add bratwurst and the beer to the pot (make sure there is enough beer to cover the bratwurst). Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour. After simmering, place the bratwurst on the grill over low heat for 10 minutes. After grilling, return the bratwurst to the beer mixture, add the lemon/lime soda to the pot and simmer for another 30 minutes. Then remove the bratwurst from the pot. Slice the bratwurst lengthwise in quarters and then dice into 1/8 inch slices. Preparing Slovak–style Onions and Sauerkraut: While the bratwurst cook, fry the bacon until crispy. While the bacon is frying, thinly slice the other onion half. Open and drain the sauerkraut. When the bacon is crispy, remove from pan and reserve the bacon grease. Place onion in reserved bacon grease and sauté over medium/low heat. Next, place the sauerkraut, butter and fried bacon back into the skillet. Cook mixture over very low heat stirring frequently. Preparing Hamburger Patties: While the bacon, onions and sauerkraut cooks, prepare your hamburger patties. To make the patties, combine the seasoning salt, freshly ground pepper and Angus ground beef. While forming the patties, press down the middle of the hamburger to thin it out while keeping the edges thicker. This will create a concave patty and a nice cavity for the bratwurst and Baby Swiss cheese filling. Place ½ diced bratwurst into the cavity of the bottom patty followed by a slice of Baby Swiss cheese (you may need to cut the cheese so that it fits in the cavity). Then place a second “thinned- out” hamburger patty on top. Your resulting hamburger should be flat on the top and bottom since the bratwurst and cheese will fit into the cavity you created between the top and bottom hamburger patties. Crimp the sides of the hamburger together to seal the cheese and bratwurst in your newly formed hamburger. Brush the grill rack with oil. Place the hamburgers on the grill and grill to your desired doneness (5 minutes on each side for medium). Spread butter on Kaiser rolls and grill a minute over low heat to toast. Assembling the Hamburger: Remove the rolls from the grill, and spread tops with Horseradish mustard. Place hamburgers on the Kaiser rolls and top with a generous amount of the warm sauerkraut, onion and bacon mixture. Makes 6 burgers.