I know Oktoberfest typically happens in September but I’m still feeling the flavor profile, in spite of it being November. We like to skip right to the holidays once the last jack-o-lantern hits the compost. But I’m still marinating in the fall of it all. I feel like holiday festivities encourage the rapid arrival of frosty nights. But having seen my city’s first snowfall this week – don’t worry, it didn’t stick – I am in no rush to dream of a white Christmas. So in lieu of unleashing an avalanche of holiday-friendly content, I’m keeping things autumnal with these Smoked Gouda Pork Burgers with Applesauce.
There are three main components to this burger – applesauce, the burger itself, and a shaved Brussels sprout slaw. Now, that’s fairly low-key by gourmet burger standards. Most artisanal patties have the equivalent of a three-course meal piled on top of them. But while the list of toppings for these Smoked Gouda Pork Burgers is brief, each layer is complex and extravagant in flavor. So let’s take them one-by-one, shall we? Starting with the applesauce.
Making applesauce is a fairly straightforward affair. I feel silly even including a recipe for it. So, if you’ve never made it before, prepare to be astounded by the lack of skill and attention it asks of you. It does require a bit of forethought because it takes some time to cook an apple down. But once your apples are sauce, you can pretty much slap the stuff on a burger. There is no real reason to chill it after you’ve cooked it. But that being said, if you make the sauce ahead of time, it will keep well in the fridge for a few days. And it is perfectly reasonable to put fridge-cold applesauce on a burger.
I switched up the seasonings for this burger-bound applesauce. I added my usual brown sugar and cinnamon stick, but I steered the sauce in a more savory direction by adding mustard seed and apple cider vinegar. The result is a vaguely chutney-esque applesauce that plays very nicely with the pork burger.
Let’s talk about that pork burger. Well, when it comes to beef burgers, I subscribe to the “less you do to it, the better” philosophy. That’s not the case with a pork burger. I like to approach alternative burger meats, like turkey, chicken, or lamb, with a meatball approach. So yes, these pork burgers contain egg and panko breadcrumbs, which act as binders. Lean ground pork isn’t famous for its durability. Beyond the binders, these burgers also boast fresh sage, two kinds of mustard, and salt.
My hope is that these Smoked Gouda Pork Burgers conjure fond memories of good street meat bratwurst. You know, the ones you snarfed when particularly drunk and hungry? I want to give you that eating experience. No hangover necessary, but who am I to stop you?
Finally, we reach the mountain of Brussels sprout slaw. I’m going to warn you upfront, you will want a mandoline for this. Shaving Brussels sprouts with a knife is no one’s idea of a good time. And if you do treat yourself to a mandoline, you’re going to want/need a safety glove. No matter how confident you might be, a safety glove is just a good idea. Living your life without the tip of your index finger is a misery. I’m speaking from lived experience here, people!
So to make this slaw, you’re going to shave up some sprouts and some radishes using a mandoline. Then you’re going to take those radishes and cut them into matchsticks. This is a stylistic choice more than anything but slicing your radishes that small does pretty much guarantee a little bit of radish in every bite of slaw. From there, the slaw is dressed in a mixture of yogurt, celery seed, apple cider vinegar, honey, and salt. Easy peasy!
Now, let’s talk buns. I went with a homemade kaiser bun dusted with poppyseeds. You’re extra-credit assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to make your own buns. I’ve included a recipe below. But if you decide to go this route, I suggest you make the buns a full day in advance. If you choose to make the entire recipe in one day, you’ll likely be stuck in the kitchen for most of it. Personally, that sounds like a good time to me, but I accept that I am not the average bear. The other option is to buy your favorite burger bun and forget about the kneading, proofing, and shaping.
So that’s everything you need to know about these Smoked Gouda Pork Burgers with Applesauce. They’re sweet, savory, smokey, and a just bit tangy. What more could you ask of a burger?
Smoked Gouda Pork Burgers with Applesauce & Brussels Sprout Slaw
Poppy Seed Kaiser Buns **
- ¾ cup lukewarm water
- 1½ tsp dry active yeast
- 1½ tsp granulated sugar
- 1¼ tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter softened, cut into cubes
- ¼ cup milk I used 2%
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds for sprinkling
- 2 Royal Gala apples peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup water
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
Brussels Sprout Slaw
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts shaved using a mandolin
- 6 radishes thinly sliced and cut into matchsticks
- ¾ cup Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp celery seed
Smoked Gouda Pork Burgers
- 454g (1 lb) ground pork
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp fresh sage finely sliced
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard heaping
- 1½ tsp whole grain mustard heaping
- 1 tsp salt
- 6-8 slices smoked gouda
For the Kaiser Buns
- Pour the water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water and let stand for 10 minutes or until foamy. Once the yeast is foamy, add the salt, sugar, and egg. Whisk on medium until combined.
- Replace the whisk attachment with a dough hook and add a cup and a half of the flour. Mix on medium-low until the flour is well integrated. Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments, waiting until each addition is folded in before adding more. Only add as much flour as you need to form a dough that cleans the sides of the bowl and is sticky but not tacky.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead by hand for roughly 7 minutes or until the dough feels elastic and silky to the touch. Transfer the dough to a bowl greased with olive oil and cover. Let rise in a warm place for 1 – 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into six even pieces. Roll one of the pieces out to form a long rope. Wrap one half of the rope around your hand. Take the remaining tail and coil it around the circle you formed. When the ends meet, simply tuck them towards the center of the bun like a belly button.*** Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
- Place the formed buns on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the buns and set aside to rise a second time. This should take about an hour. You can start preheating the oven to 425°F halfway through the second rise.
- When the buns have risen, brush them with the milk and sprinkle the poppy seeds over top. Place the buns in the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden.
- Transfer the buns to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
For the Applesauce
- Place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the apple is tender.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and place the apples in a large food processor. Blitz until very smooth. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and let cool to room temperature before covering and storing in the fridge.
Brussels Sprout Slaw
- Place the Brussels sprouts and radishes in a large bowl and set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk to combine the yogurt, vinegar, honey, salt, and celery seed. Pour the mixture over the Brussels sprouts and toss to coat. Cover and transfer to the fridge until ready to eat.
For the Burgers
- Place all of the ingredients, except for the gouda, in a large bowl. Using a clean hand, mix the ingredients together until cohesive. Divide the mixture into four patties and set aside.
- Pour a little oil into a large cast-iron skillet and place over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering add the patties to the skillet and fry for 3-5 minutes on one side. Flip the burgers and place the gouda evenly over the cooked surface of each burger. Place a lid over the skillet and cook for 3 minutes more or until the cheese has melted and the burgers feel springy to the touch.
- While the burgers are frying, toast 4 buns. Slather the bottom buns with applesauce and place the burger on top. Finish the burgers with a crown of the Brussels Sprout Slaw. Serve immediately with cold beers.