While the method of cooking a smash burger has been around for decades ever since the act of smashing a hamburger patty firmly against a griddle to increase the crispiness of its texture was first popularized in the Midwest, the recipe for smash burgers has only been perfected ever since. This is most clearly seen in this recipe for the “Ultimate Smash Cheeseburger” from Serious Eats, in which you get twice the patty, texture, and flavor with every bite.
- 1 soft hamburger roll, buttered and toasted
- 4 ounces of freshly ground beef, divided into two 2-ounce balls
- 1 slice of meltable cheese (ex. American, cheddar, or comté)
- Condiments as per your preference (ex. mayonnaise, ketchup, or mustard)
- Toppings as per your preference (ex. shredded lettuce, onions, tomatoes, or pickles)
- You’ll begin this recipe by preparing your burger bun. You’ll do this by laying your toppings of choice atop the bottom half of the bun. You’ll want this bottom bun nearby for when your burger is cooked, as the smash burgerbenefits from the freshness of the final product.
- Next, take a large stainless steel sauté pan or skillet and preheat it over high heat for about 2 minutes. After you’ve divided your 4 oz. of ground beef into two 2 oz. balls of beef, place the balls into the pan, and smash them down using the foolproof smash burger method of pressing the patty down with a stiff metal spatula and using a second spatula to add pressure. Smashed patties should end up slightly wider than the burger bun.
- After it begins to solidify beneath the spatula, season the burger generously with salt and pepper, cooking them until the patties are well-browned and the tops are just starting to turn a combination of a pale pink and gray coloration. This will take approximately 45 seconds. Then, using a bench scraper or the back-side of a stiff metal spatula, carefully scrape the patties from the pan and ensure that you get all of the browned bits.
- Flip your patties over, and then immediately place a slice of cheese over one patty and then stack the second on top, covering the cheese. Immediately remove this smash burger from the pan and transfer it to the burger bun that’s lying in wait nearby.
- Serve & enjoy!
A properly prepared smash burger attributes its unique texture to the method in which the ground beef patty is cooked. As the name suggests, the chef smashes the beef patty firmly into an ungreased skillet or pan, which increases the points of contact between the cooking surface and the patty itself. This results in the overall texture of the burgerhaving as much “crust” or crispiness as possible while also enriching the flavor.
In order to ensure that your smash burger is the best it can be, time, attention, and care must be taken into the specific cooking instruments you are using in the smashing process. This recipe suggests utilizing the sturdiness and reliability of a stiff spatula or a bench scraper so that you can scrape up the burger from the skillet in one fluid motion, retaining the crust and beef patty integrity.
One of the criticisms often attributed to the smash cheeseburger isn’t regarding its taste or texture, but people take umbrage with its size. Sure it’s wide, but it’s often called “too thin,” but that’s just where this Serious Eats recipe comes into play. By cooking two separate 2-ounce patties per burger instead of the traditional single 4-ounce patty, you’re able to slide a piece of meltable cheese in between the two burgers; this will not only keep your meat base moist and crispy, but it will bulk up the overall burger.
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