You might have seen that they other day was National Cheeseburger day. Being the carnivorous creature that I am, I made sure to grab one to celebrate. Which I was chomping away I couldn’t help but think back to another cheeseburger I had a while back. You see every year the good people of Sheboygan, WI throw a festival to celebrate their state’s official food, the Bratwurst. Well our friends at Johnsonville invited my wife and I to check out the festival last year and engage in the brat love. Needless to say we had an absolute blast seeing just how much they embrace the brat and all the cool ways they’re using them in different types of cuisine. For example we saw brat pizza, chimichangas, tacos, gyros, etc. For the purists you could also enjoy a single or double brat on a local Sheboygan Hard Roll. We also took in some of the local lingo such as a brat fry, or fry out, which seems to be the preferred local lingo for a cookout or bbq. Heck, we even saw a guy eat 20 brats in 10 minutes. If you have the chance to go next August I highly recommend it. Side note: I don’t advocate eating 20 brats that quickly, you probably should stop at 10.
Getting back to the cheeseburger theme, among the foods that we had a chance to try was the Oostburger. I can only imagine the name for this particular creation is based on the neighboring town of Oostburg. As I observed at Brat Days the Oostburger is basically not much more than a cheeseburger with a brat on top of it. Sounds kind of strange, but it really adds a neat dimension to the burger, and it’s such a simple concept. The variation in texture, and the richness of the sausage work together to impart a new burger experience. I liked it so much that I thought I would try and recreate it, as hard as putting a cylindrical brat on a flat burger is, to share with those outside of us outside Cheese Head territory.
To make your own it’s important to start by finding yourself a nice bun to put this on. Since I’m unable to find the hard roll that they use in the Sheboygan area, I’m going to use a Kaiser because it’s about the closest thing I can find here in NC. A typical hamburger bun is probably going to be a little wimpy for what we’re trying to accomplish. What you want is a bun with a nice crusty outside, but is still plenty soft on the inside.
When you’re at the grill you’ve got to consider that the brat and the burger are in all likelihood not going to be done at the same time. So what can you do about it? Well you can time things out so they’ll finish about the same time, or even cook one part and then keep it warm while the other finishes. Personally, I like the idea of using a “brat hot tub” which I initially wrote about in my “Brat Test” article. Basically the brat hot tub is not much more than a warm mixture of beer some butter, onion, and garlic, in a pan. Cook up your brats and then toss em in to keep em warm and juicy. If you’ve got the real estate on the grill for this technique I would highly recommend it. I suppose you could use a bratwurst patty for these sort of copying the whole double burger thing, but I think using the link in the casing is more fun.
Since the star of this burger is most definitely the brat you don’t need to go super gourmet and get some Wagyu patties for this, but you don’t want to bring it down by getting the super cheap mystery meat frozen patties either. I like a fresh 80/20 ground chuck for my “everyday” burgers. This fat content should ideally keep the meat juicy enough, and lend just the right amount of beef flavor. However with beef prices being what they are today feel free to use whatever you like, just try to stay away from the super lean stuff unless you need to.
What I did was to grill my brats to almost done and then move them away from the direct heat, since I was doing these on a smaller grill I had to skip the hot tub. I threw on my burger patties and then cooked them to my desired doneness. Once the burgers were just about there I added 2 slices of Wisconsin sharp cheddar to each pattie. When the cheese was melted I pulled all the meat to let it rest for a few. While the protein was resting I toasted the buns a little. I think it works well to split the brat, if for no other reason than ease of eating, before placing on the burger but you don’t have to. Top with a little brown mustard and sliced onion and you’ve got yourself an Oostburger. Of course you could add whatever you like to yours, but simpler is better.
Here is a more specific recipe:
1 pound of ground chuck
1 pack good quality Bratwurst (We like Johnsonville obviously)
5 Kaiser Rolls (Or you could use Sheboygan Hard Rolls if you have a source)
10 slices Sharp Wisconsin Cheddar
Salt and Pepper to taste.
1.) Set up a grill for direct heat, and preheat a grill to Medium.
2.) Form 5 patties from the ground chuck, trying to get the diameter as close to the buns as possible. They’ll be thin, but that’s what we want. Season with salt and pepper. I only ended up with 4 because I’m a bone head, but aim for 5 if you can. It’ll make for a better 1:1 with your brats.
3.) Slice rolls completely in half so you have a top and bottom.
4.) Grill meats until done. ~15-20 minutes for brats, ~10 for burgers. When the burger patties are nearly done top with 2 slices cheese.
5.) When meat is cooked pull off heat, and toast buns on grill. This will go quick, no more than 30 seconds should do. Remember you can always toast more, but once you’ve gotten to burnt you’re screwed.
6.) Slice brats lengthwise.
7.) Place burger pattie on bun, top with sliced brat.
8.) Add desired condiments