Midwest Pumpernickel Butter-Burgers
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided use
1 1/2 teaspoons Missouri honey
1 3/4 lbs. ground sirloin
3/4 lb. bulk sage pork sausage
2 tablespoons spicy German mustard
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided use
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided use
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced apple (such as Gala, Jonagold, Fuji)
2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 ounces thinly sliced sharp white cheddar cheese
12 slices pumpernickel bread, trimmed to fit size of burgers
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
In a small bowl, stir together 5 tablespoons butter and honey, until well combined. Remove butter from bowl, spoon onto parchment paper or plastic wrap, and roll into a log. Chill for 10-15 minutes in the refrigerator, or until firm; slice into 6 equal pieces.
In a large mixing bowl, combine sirloin, sausage, mustard, garlic, fennel, caraway, marjoram, allspice, 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper, until just combined. Shape the meat into 6 equal patties, and flatten 1/4-inch thickness. Place a butter piece into the center of each patty, and wrap meat around butter.
Melt the additional 1 tablespoon butter in a large, heavy nonstick fire-proof skillet on the grill. Stir in apple and onion, and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened and golden brown; stir in the additional 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, until combined. Set apples and onions to the side, and keep warm.
Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. Equally place the sliced cheese on the patties during the last 3 minutes of grilling. Place the bread slices on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling.
To assemble the burgers, place the patties on half of the bread slices; top equally with apples and onions, cover with remaining bread slices, and serve.
Makes 6 burgers