I don’t know if it’s my out of control appetite or the out of control winter weather here in NYC, but either way I’m all about the comfort food lately. I wanted to create a really big sandwich, and this is what I came up with: all of my favorite German beer garden favorites in one monstrosity I like to call the Big Bertha.
What is Big Bertha? She is a massive wench and packs a punch with smoked and grilled kielbasa, sauerkraut, German potato salad with bacon, whole grain dijon mustard and beer cheese sauce on a pretzel bun. Oh and of course we wash it all down with a nice beer. I actually didn’t have any German beer on hand, but I had Porkslap, which is pretty fitting for me. #skinnypignyc
A few notes: I bought the sauerkraut ready made because I didn’t feel like fermenting my own cabbage for 2-3 days. Unnecessary here. I did make my own beer cheese sauce, but that’s because that is a fine skill every woman should have in her arsenal. If you want to be marriage material, you probably should learn how to make beer cheese. Just saying.
Also, please never take marriage advice from me. I am good at cooking and that’s about it.
And please ignore the piece of bacon in my fingernail in the pic above.
Big Bertha – makes 2 sandwiches
- 1/2 lb smoked pork kielbasa, cut lengthwise into 4 slices
- 1 pretzel baguette, cut in half and then split lengthwise
- Whole grain Dijon mustard (I used roughly 1 tbsp for spreading)
- 1/2 cup pre-made sauerkraut
- 1 large Yukon gold potato
- 1 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
- 3 slices bacon
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Pepper to taste
BEER CHEESE SAUCE NEEDS
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup IPA, ale, or dark beer (basically anything but light beer)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 tsp Franks Red Hot
- 2 tsp Worcestershire
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp Flavor God Everything seasoning
1. Make potato salad. Slice potato into 1/4 inch slices, then into quarters. Add to pot filled with water with a few sprinkles of salt and boil until softened but not overcooked. You don’t want mushy potatoes plus you will toss them in a skillet later to cook a bit more.
2. Cook bacon in a large skillet and set aside on paper towels to drain. Chop into small pieces when cooled. In the same bacon fat, add the red onion and cook for a few minutes until softened and fragrant. Add apple cider vinegar, mustard, and salt. When potatoes are done cooking, drain in a colander and toss in the skillet with the onion mixture until nicely coated. Add bacon and mayo as a last step and remove from heat. I put them in a glass bowl and set them aside.
3. Make beer cheese. Well first we make a ROUX. I’d like to break this down for you because making things with a flour roux can be tricky. The roux is the butter and flour mixture that thickens sauces, soups, etc. Here’s how it goes: melt butter in a medium saucepan and add the flour while whisking constantly. It should look like this aka lumpy and white:
After a minute or so, you will see the mixture start to thin out a bit as you continue to whisk. It will also start to bubble and will look like this:
After another minute or two of whisking, you’ll notice it will start to brown a bit and thin out even more, becoming smooth. This is the stage where you want to stop. The longer you cook a roux, the less thickening power it will have.
4. At this stage you want to add the milk and beer. Slowly whisk in the milk (don’t be afraid if it sizzles and bubbles, just keep whisking! This is all the exercise we have!). After the milk and flour start to come together, slowly whisk in the beer. Whisk again with purpose. You can do it! Cook for 3-4 minutes and it should start to thicken and look like this:
5. Add seasonings and cheese. The best part. Add hot sauce, Worcestershire, mustard, paprika, and Flasvor God. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add cheese only a handful at a time, whisking until smooth. If you add all of the cheese at once you will have a lumpy congealed mess, not a smooth sauce. Once all cheese is combined, add salt and pepper to taste, turn off heat and you’re done! YAY BEER CHEESE.
6. Grill kielbasa. I have a grillpan, so I just threw it on there until it got nice charred grill marks on each side. If you don’t have a grill pan, just use a regular skillet or flat top.
7. If you don’t want to toast your bread you don’t have to, but I did. I set my oven at 375 while I was cooking the beer cheese and popped it in halfway through kielbasa cooking. I only toasted it for a few minutes because I didn’t want the pretzel bun to be overly hard and crunchy. You want a pretzel texture after all: crisp on the outside, warm and soft on the inside. MMMMMM.
8. Assemble the sandwich! Slice baguette lengthwise but not all the way through. Think of it as a mouth opening. Spread the mustard, then some beer cheese. Add some sauerkraut to your taste. I put quite a bit because I loves me some kraut. Add 2 slices of kielbasa, top with the German potato salad, drizzle some more beer cheese on top, and HELLO BIG BERTHA. You are a sexy bitch.