Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bacon and Kraut Burger

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending REAP's Burgers and Brew at Capital Brewery in Middleton. I've been to the event every year it has taken place, but every year I am still absolutely thrilled to dig into the ever-evolving menu of locally-sourced burgers and Wisconsin microbrews that appear. Some people might have had their fill after an afternoon full of those culinary delights, but it inspired me to try my hand at creating a new fancy burger of my own with what I had around the house. I'm definitely an old hand at burger creations, my efforts ranging from ultra-healthy veggie burgers to fish burgers to hedonist meat lovers' delights, with this burger falling more on the indulgent end of the spectrum. I really went all out with this one - local, grass-fed, organic ground beef, Lodi bacon, and Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese all coming together in in a savory delight almost beyond description. (My only regret was not having a pretzel bun to pile on this stuff with all this deliciousness.) It might all be a bit too much were it not for the sharp mustard and tart sauerkraut that cut through the fattiness and allow all the rich ingredients to shine independently. It probably goes without saying, but there's nothing better than a cold beer with this burger and I recommend a brown ale, such as Rebel Kent the First you can see waiting in the background here. Pair those with a warm and sunny day and a comfy chair in the backyard and you've got the recipe for a perfect summer afternoon.

Bacon and Kraut Burger
serves 1

2 slices bacon (about 2 ounces)
1 whole grain or pretzel bun
1 tablespoon coarse mustard
One 4- to 6-ounce grass-fed burger patty
1/4 cup drained sauerkraut (bagged or homemade, not canned)
1 ounce thinly sliced Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese (or sharp cheddar, Swiss, or Gruyere)

1. Preheat a pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, turning periodically, until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels and reserve warm bacon grease.

2. Meanwhile, prepare a charcoal or gas grill. When grill is ready, split bun, spread with a thin layer of warm bacon grease and toast until golden brown. Spread one half of the bun with the coarse mustard and set aside.

3. Add burger patty to grill, and cook, turning once, to just shy of desired level of doneness (I like my burgers medium-rare). A minute or two before the burger will achieved desired level of doneness, place sauerkraut, bacon, and cheese on top of burger patty and continue cook until burger is done and cheese is melted, another minute or two. Place burger on bottom half of bun

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