BRATWURST BURGERS WITH CHILI-KRAUT TOPPING
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped Kosher dill pickles
3 1/2 tablespoons Colavita extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons shallots, chopped
1 1/2 cups prepared kraut, drained
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy)
4 teaspoons Thai chili paste (Sambel Oelek), divided
12 slices applewood bacon
1 cup Illinois bella mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
1 1/4 pounds ground pork
3/4 pound Johnsonville bratwurst, casings removed
1/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon fennel seed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for brushing on grill rack
6 slices (14-inch thick) Gruyere cheese
6 whole wheat or seeded buns, split
1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
Preheat a gas grill to medium-high. In a small bowl combine mayonnaise and pickles; cover and chill.
To make Chili-Kraut topping, place 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and shallots in a medium fire-proof saucepan and set on the grill rack over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the kraut; cook 2 minutes. Add sweet chili sauce and 2 teaspoons Thai chili paste; heat through. Remove from grill rack; keep warm and set aside.
Heat a large, heavy nonstick fire-proof skillet on the grill. Add bacon and cook until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Keep bacon warm wrapped in foil.
To make patties, place 2 tablepsoons oil in a large fire-proof skillet and set on the grill rack. When oil is hot, add the mushrooms and onion. Cook, stir frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the ground pork bratwurst, 2 teaspoons chili paste, breadcrumbs, fennel, garlic, salt and pepper. Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compacting it; mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns.
When the grill is ready, brush rack with oil. Place the patties on the grill, cover and cook for 6 to 7 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. During last minute of grilling, top each patty with a cheese slice and place the buns, cut sides down, on the grill to lightly toast.
To assemble burgers, spread pickle mayo on the cut sides of roll bottoms. Top with a cheese-topped patty, 2 bacon strips, some Chili-Kraut mixture, spinach and bun tops. Makes 6 burgers