How to Make Birch & Barley’s Brat Burger

Chef Kyle Bailey shows us how to pull off his German-inspired burger, one of our favorite dishes at this glammed-up beer hall.

Burgers and beer have always been a winning combo, but Birch & Barley chef Kyle Bailey has made them even more ale-friendly: His German-American patty is made from bratwurst. Bailey says sausage making is the last frontier for many home cooks: “A lot of people have a really good sense of technique and ingredients, but they’re afraid to make homemade sausage.” You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment. For years, Bailey used the grinder attachment on his KitchenAid stand mixer, and that’s still a good bet for home cooks. His recipe calls for pork butt, pork fatback, and veal shoulder—inexpensive meats that you can ask for at the butcher counter of your grocery store. The brat burger is served in the restaurant with Emmentaler cheese, arugula, and house-made beer sauerkraut. In our video below, he shows us how it’s done. Get the recipe after the video.

Birch & Barley’s Brat Burger

Makes eight 8-ounce patties

11⁄3 pounds pork butt, diced and chilled
6 ounces pork fatback, diced and chilled
6 ounces veal shoulder, diced and chilled
2½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten, chilled
½ cup heavy cream, chilled
2 pounds ground beef

Combine all the ingredients—except the eggs, cream, and ground beef—in a bowl with your hands. Make sure the fat and meat are evenly distributed. In another bowl, place the chilled eggs and cream and whisk until combined. Using a stand mixer fitted with a grinder attachment, grind the meat mixture. Place the mixture into the stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment. Paddle the mixture (make sure it’s chilled) on setting 1 for 1 minute. Add the ground beef. Mix on setting 2 for 2 minutes, slowly adding the cream-and-egg blend to the mixer. Mix on setting 1 until well mixed. Divide the meat into 8-ounce patties. Grill over high heat for 4 minutes on each side or until the burgers are fully cooked through.

Beer Sauerkraut

1 cup diced bacon
¼ onion, sliced
1 cup white wine
1 8-ounce can sauerkraut, drained and chopped
1 cup German hefeweizen beer (Bailey uses Ayinger Bräu-Weisse)
½ cup chicken stock
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Set the oven to 350 degrees.

Render the bacon in a pan set over low heat. Add the onions and sweat them until translucent. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Reduce until the pan is almost dry. Add the drained sauerkraut and mix well. Turn the stove to medium heat. Add the beer and chicken stock, then the grated apple. Cover with parchment paper. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or to the desired texture. Cool. Serve with the burgers.

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Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.