Monday, June 15, 2015

the smashed burger.

I am as close to a burger purist as you can get which means that when I want a burger I want a cheeseburger with nothing but cheese on a burger (cooked medium-rare or even better smashed) and a sqiushy potato roll.   No lettuce, no tomatoes and DEFINITELY no onion.  (The handful of times I remember going to McDonalds as a kid my order was always “Quarter Pounder with Cheese No Onions No Pickles”.)  I’m not sure if this makes me part of the norm or if it makes me an outlier but I am OK with it either way.  

What all of this really means is that I love Shake Shack.  I don't care if you think it's over-hyped or the burgers aren't that great, I think it's pretty damm perfect.  It's salty and satisfying and everything I crave when I want a burger (also their cheese fries are utterly amazing and I only recently discovered that and I can't believe I didn't know that sooner).  So when I figured out that I could make a smash burger - the kind of burger Shake Shack is known for - in the comfort of my own home, well it's safe to say I was at the butcher 24 hours later.

This is my dream burger.  Thin and crispy edged.  Melted cheese that manages to seep into every beefy crevice.  It's perfect in it's simplicity but if you desire toppings the world is your oyster. Best of all this can be made indoors on a cast iron skillet which means no grill is required (perfect for those city folks).    

The Smashed Burger
Recipe from Serious Eats and Epicurious

Makes 4 hamburgers

1 pound freshly ground beef (3/4 pound ground sirloin + 1/4 pound brisket is recommended, but if you can’t find, use chuck) with an 80/20 fat ratio
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more if needed
4 potato rolls, preferably Martin’s brand
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices cheese, American or whatever you like on burgers, if you’re making cheeseburgers
Optional toppings (if you are so inclined) 1/4-inch-thick tomato slices, thinly sliced pickles, burger-sized pieces green-leaf lettuce, ketchup (duh), mayo 

Prepare the meat: Form the meat into four equal-sized four-ounce meat “pucks,” roughly 2 1/2 inches thick. Place them on a plate lined with plastic wrap or waxed paper and freeze for 15 minutes, but no longer. We don’t want to freeze the meat, but we’d like it to be extra-cold when it hits the pan.

Toast the buns: Heat a griddle, large cast-iron skillet (my first choice and recommendation), or large heavy stainless-steel skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and place the buns, cut-side down, in the pan. Cook until cut sides are golden-brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Place toasted buns on four plates; you’ll keep using your griddle or skillet.

Cook the burgers: Remove patties from freezer. Increase heat to high and add 2 tablespoons oil to the griddle or skillet — you’ll need this only for your first burger batch; after you’ve made a couple or if you’re scaling the recipe up, the fat from the earlier burgers will be sufficient — heat until oil begins to smoke, at least two minutes. Working one at a time, add a patty to griddle and immediately flatten it to a 1/2-inch thickness with a heavy spatula and something with weight and heft (the handle of a second spatula, a meat pounder, etc. see details up top) to help it along. You’ll have to “hammer” harder than you might think to flatten the patties out. A second spatula can be used to help remove the hamburger stuck to the flattening one, so not to tear the patty. Generously season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining patties.

Once the first side is deeply browned with crisp, craggly edges, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes for medium — mine were all quite black when they were flipped, and yet still totally pink inside when we cut into them; it will be hard to overcook them at this high heat — use a spatula to scrape underneath the patty and flip it over. Cover with a slice of cheese if making cheeseburgers, and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, until melted. Repeat process with remaining patties.

Assemble burgers: Transfer cooked patties to toasted burger buns. Top burgers with tomatoes, lettuce, pickles (if using) ketchup and mayo and immediately dig in.

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