When I interviewed Carsten for the Man in the Kitchen series, he shared with me his Bavarian Burger recipe, which he guaranteed would be a mindblowing taste experience. Truth be told, I was highly sceptical. When Carsten uttered the words “Bavarian burgers”, my mind conjured up an image not far from the photo above.
It’s not like I’m a stranger to Weißwurst. In my first year at university in London, I lived with a girl from Munich who introduced me to the wonders of Bavarian beers and sausages; I’ve been hooked since. Her brother and boyfriend used to visit us, smuggling the German contraband that is Weißwürste, beer and sweet mustard. Then we’d sit around our tiny dining table in the kitchen and eat this for dinner, them all the while sighing that we are breaking all kinds of Bavarian tradition.
My scepticism stems from my association of German food being comfort food: homey and hearty, the familiar and easy flavours giving you a warm and fuzzy feeling. My guilty pleasure is eating Leberknödelsuppe when I am feeling a little unwell; the Chinese rice congee with thousand year egg, chopped ginger, scallions and soy sauce is my other “sick day” comfort food.
I suppose my expectations around the adjective “mind-blowing” didn’t apply to that end of the spectrum: “mind-blowing” was novel flavour combinations and cooking technique. Like the petits four at Horváth: brown butter and cooked pigs blood in thin rice paper that passed for chocolate. Or my take on the classic grilled steak, with white chocolate Béarnaise sauce.
In food, can comforting be mind-blowing? Actually, yes! I ate the most amazing mashed potatoes last year in a Berlin eatery, and yesterday I ate a breakfast of sausage gravy and biscuits that my friend Sarah had made. Mind blown in that familiar, cozy and fuzzy way where I was transported to my childhood again.
Anyhoo. I realised I was limiting myself if I didn’t try Carsten’s Bavarian burgers recipe. So here we are!
I didn’t manage to source Weißwürste in time for Carsten’s Man in the Kitchen post; however, I ordered some Weißwürste from my Fleischhandlung friend for this weekend. They, too, were curious about this mystery Bavarian burger experiment that I was about to undertake. All the other ingredients were easily obtained around my ‘hood in one errand run. Then I got to work.
What you need for the Rotkohl
- ¼ head of red cabbage, finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon raw sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 pinch ground chilli powder
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 garlic clove or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground Cayenne pepper
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 350 ml balsamic vinegar
- 60 ml apple juice
- ½ of an orange: I chopped mine up
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- a drizzle of rapeseed oil
Prep the Rotkohl
I sauteéd the red cabbage in my cast-iron pan together with the raw sugar and honey. Once it’s soft and caramelised, I added the chilli pepper, bay leaves, garlic and Cayenne pepper. Scrape all those lovely caramelised bits off the pan and loosen with the liquid: balsamic vinegar and apple juice.
Simmer until the liquid has reduced. Add the chopped oranges, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Then add the lemon juice and rapeseed oil and mix well. Place into a bowl to cool, and infuse. Shortly before assembling the burgers, reheat and serve warm on the burgers.
What you need for the burger patties
- 3-4 Weißwürste, peeled and finely diced
- 50g fresh mince from sausages
- 200g minced pork
- ¼ bunch chives, finely sliced
- ¼ bunch chervil, finely chopped
- ¼ bunch flat-leaved parsley, finely chopped
- whole peppercorns
- sea salt
Peeling and chopping the sausages
So there’s a trick to this, and I credit my sausage-peeling skills to all those times I spent helping my handsome-and-talented husband make homemade sausages with his KitchenAid Fleischwolf. Because, while he mixes the meat and spices and operates the Fleischwolf, I’m the one who has to clean the casings/intestines and attach them to the Fleischwolf sausage exit.
Basically, bring the sausages to room temperature when you begin and keep all the sausage links intact: don’t cut them off one by one. Start at one end, the first one is always the sacrificial sausage, as this one is likely to lose most meat clinging onto the sausage casing. With wet hands, pry the casing wide open with your fingers, they’ll stretch, don’t worry, and grab the tip of the sausage while with the other hand, peel off the casing. If you do it right, you’ll manage to peel the casing off in one go, and end up with one long strip of casing.
Chop the sausage into small cubes.
Prep the burger patties
Mix all the ingredients, except for the salt and pepper, together in a large mixing bowl. Form into balls. I usually only mash them with the back of my spatula or a potato masher, once they’re on the skillet/griddle. Cook 2 minutes each side. Then season with salt and pepper after cooking.
What you need for assembling the burger
- the burger patties
- the finished Rotkohl
- 4-6 pretzelbuns
- salted butter
- 8 teaspoons honey mustard: I used the ones that go with Bavarian Weißwürste
- some rapeseed oil, seasalt and pepper
- 4 tablespoons honey mustard, set aside
- 3-4 radish, thinly sliced
- 1 bowl garden cress
- oven chips
Assembling the burgers
Cut the buns and toast the halves in salted butter until the outer is crisp; I actually used some of the drippings from the burger pan on the bread pan. Spread the bottom bun halves with the honey mustard. Add the finished burger patties, layer with the radish, marinated red cabbage, garden cress and the bun top.
I made oven chips, which are more like potato chips than fries, to go with the burgers. It’s super easy: preheat the oven to 180C, soak the clean-but-unpeeled potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes, then slice the potatoes thinly, place on kitchen/tea towels to dry, then place on an oven rack that’s been lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and onion powder. Bake in oven for 15 minutes until they’ve crisped up.
Tastebuds officially rocked.
Carsten, you can stop smiling and wipe that smug look off your face now. Stop it with the victory dance too, thank you.
So good! Rotkohl I’ve always been fond of, though I never make it myself and rely on German friends to dish them up at dinner. The orange in the rotkohl played well with the Weißwurst spices (ginger, cardamom, and perhaps a hint of nutmeg). I love the crunch of the radish. Chervil is something I don’t cook with, but wow, it does add depth in this combination. I need to figure out the portions a bit better, as the patties I made ended up being huge.
A tasty, happy way to spend Sunday, and I’m sure we will be hosting Bavarian burger Sundays at ours soon. Get those Dirndls and Lederhosen ready, guys and girls!
We decided to have a bit of fun for the photoshoot: everyone knows I love my Dirndl, that I’m always looking for a reason to wear it. For today’s Sunday lunch, I put on my Dirndl and the handsome-and-talented husband put on his Lederhose. Then we posed for the Bavarian burger photos.
See you in the next blog post! Thanks for reading this far!