Butch Wardenga was a year behind me in high school, but he ended up a few years ahead of me in cooking and sharing his recipes. While I left Hayward and ended up working for a company in the Twin Cities, Butch stayed in the Hayward area and ended up with his own home caretaking business.
While there are these obvious differences in our lives, we both had mothers who were good cooks, we share a love of good food and we like cooking for other people. Butch published a collection of his recipes in a book he titled Care Taker’s Cookbook. I write “Courage in the Kitchen.”
One of my sisters and her husband gave me a copy of Care Taker’s Cookbook for my birthday this year, and several recipes caught my eye. I talked with Butch on the phone and have his permission to share some of those recipes on this blog. The first one I tried was “Kraut-Stuffed Hamburgers.”
They tasted just as good as I thought they would. Frying the kraut with bacon and onion creates a mild filling for the hamburgers that is a perfect complement for the meat. You really should try it, even if you think that you don’t like sauerkraut.
2 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion (2 1/2 inches)
5 slices bacon (about 1/4 lb.)
3 cups sauerkraut
Salt and pepper
3 T olive oil
Cut the bacon into quarter inch pieces and fry them over moderate heat until they are crisp in a large skillet. Peel and chop the onion into a quarter-inch dice. Add the onions to the bacon and sauté until they are translucent and tender. Stir a dash of salt and a quarter teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper into the bacon and onion.
Stir the drained sauerkraut into the mixture and fry until it turns golden brown.
To form the hamburgers, take about a quarter cup of meat and press it into a patty about five inches in diameter. Put one or two teaspoons of the sauerkraut mixture on one half of the patty and fold the other half over the top. Seal the edges.
Heat about three tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan. Dredge the patties in flour and fry them until they are well done. If you are cooking for a group, keep the hamburgers warm in a roaster.
NOTES: I made half a batch to produce four good-sized burgers. Instead of folding the meat over the filling, I made two thin patties, put filling on the bottom one and sealed the top patty to the bottom.
Be careful with the salt, since sauerkraut is often quite salty. Diners can always salt their burger at the table.
If you want a copy of Butch’s cookbook, you can buy it the next time you are in Hayward or on line from Hayward Mercantile Company.