Burgers have gotten out of hand. Not only are bistro pubs and hip bars topping them with everything from avocado to pork belly (both of which detract and distract), but the patties themselves are just too darn thick. A burger is not a steak; a burger is a sandwich, and a sandwich is about balance between all the fillings.
Do you want a thick slab of beef to dominate your mouth and palate? Get a rib eye.
Minced beef is fine, but a burger is best when the predominant flavours are those you coax out using a hot pan or griddle — I’m talking about the Maillard reaction, friends.
You want to maximise the amount of browned meat you’re consuming, and the best way to up the browned-to-not-browned ratio is to make that patty thin and smash it.
Smashing burgers is also the easiest way to make them. You don’t have to mess with a grill. You don’t have to make little thumbprints in the patties. You don’t have to add ice.
You just get a pan real hot, smash a salty meat wad down in it, let it form a crust, then flip it to get some colour on the other side. Melt some cheese on top, and serve on toasted, buttered buns with classic burger toppings. Why would you want to complicate this?
To make four of these not-too-beefy beauties, you will need:
- 450g of 80 per cent lean minced beef
- Butter to grease the pan
- 4 slices of burger cheese
- 4 toasted, buttered buns
- Whatever toppings and condiments you like
Place a stainless steel or cast iron pan over medium-high heat and rub a stick of butter around it to lightly coat. Divide the meat into four equal portions, shape it into little mounds, and season each one liberally with salt.
You’ll only get one chance to smash, so make it count. (According to the Food Lab, smashing after half a minute has elapsed will result in a loss of fat, and that’s a very sad story.) Place a meat mound in the pan, take a very large spatula (or two regular spatulas), and press down with all of your mighty strength.
Next, walk away, Renee. Leave that burger alone for at least two minutes to let it form the crust you crave, then scrape the whole thing up, flip it over, and gaze upon it adoringly before covering it with a piece of cheese.
Let it cook for a couple of minutes more, then get it on a toasted bun with all its favourite friends.