Ken Goodman Photography
The inspiration for this recipe came from the homemade pretzel bun and cheese sauce, because hey, what goes better with those things a juicy, fat brat? The authors of Wicked Good Burgers create their own brat recipe by using ground pork and veal and seasoning it with ginger, nutmeg, and beer for an authentic version.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, dissolve the yeast in buttermilk, ¼ cup of beer, and water. Add the 3 ¾ cups flour, 1 tablespoon of salt, ¼ cup of the light brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon of regular sugar and mix on low speed until a loose dough forms. With the machine still running, slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil. When the dough is completely combined, stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and work the dough for 7-10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. If the dough is too wet/sticky, you may need to add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking oil or wipe with oil and place dough inside. Cover with a clean dish towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for about 4 hours until doubled in volume. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter. Fold the dough in 1/2 twice and let rise in the refrigerator for about 2 more hours or until doubled in volume again.
Shortly before the dough has finished its second rise, prepare the baking soda bath. In a 6-quart saucepan, bring the water, the rest of the ale, 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, and baking soda to a rolling boil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking oil.
Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and divide into eight 5-ounce pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Working 1 at a time, poach each ball in the baking soda bath for 15 seconds and then flip it and poach for 15 more seconds. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the buns with vegetable oil and sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of salt. Bake for about 14 minutes, turning halfway through, until they are golden brown.
In a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a light simmer. Whisk in the cheeses until they are fully melted and smooth. Season with lemon juice and salt to taste. Reserve until ready to use. Makes about 2 cups.
In a large bowl, combine the veal, pork, nutmeg, 1 ½ teaspoons of white pepper, ginger powder, beer, butter, and 2 teaspoons salt.
Divide the mixture into four 6-ounce portions and shape into burgers into patties. Refrigerate, covered, while you prepare the skillet. Heat a skillet over high heat until very hot. If you have an infrared thermometer, the skillet should register at least 500 degrees. Or, test by brushing on a bit of oil. When the skillet starts to smoke, it is ready.
Brush oil onto the skillet and remove the burgers from the refrigerator. Season the burgers with salt and white pepper and sear them for 2 minutes. Flip the burgers and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let rest, tented, for 5 minutes. While the burgers are resting, heat the cheese sauce.
Place the burgers on the bottoms of the buns and spoon the cheese on top. Place the tops of the buns over the cheese.