We have all heard of the Hamburger or Burger for short, but what about the Smash Burger? They've become really popular over the last year or so but what makes them so special and how do you make the perfect smash burger at home? To understand that, firstly we need to understand the Burger.
The Burger is basically a sandwich consisting of one or more cooked patties of minced meat, usually beef, placed inside a sliced bread roll or bun. The patty may be pan fried, grilled, smoked or flame grilled. They are often served with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, or bacon. Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, relish, or a burger sauce and are frequently placed on the buns. A burger topped with cheese is called a cheeseburger.
In the UK, we generally refer the patty as the burger. Since the term burger usually implies beef, for clarity "burger" may be prefixed with the type of meat or meat substitute used, as in beef burger, turkey burger, bison burger, or veggie burger.
Burgers are sold at fast-food restaurants, diners, and specialty high-end restaurants (where burgers may sell for several times the cost of a fast-food burger, but may be one of the cheaper options on the menu). There are many international and regional variations of the burger.
There have been many claims about the origin of the burger, but it remains unclear with several suitors in the running to claim that honour but it is understood to have been first made in the 1800s.
In competitions we generally go for 80/20 (that's 80% lean, 20% fat) ground beef, because for a truly great patty (with a really beefy flavour), we need fat. In this recipe (and during the Covid-19 crisis) my butcher was very busy so I opted for a beef and pork mix.
You can use any cheese you want, but ideally you want a cheese that melts perfectly, cloaking every nook and cranny of the patty.
Everywhere seems to use a brioche bun these days, but I'm not sure why? To be honest I find a brioche bun too sweet. My personal choice is to use a plain or seeded white bun as the Brioche takes away from the flavour of the patties (and falls apart too easily!)
We’re looking for crunch here, and when we talk about crunchy lettuce, we talk about iceberg. Also, leave it as whole leaves so it catches all them lovely Patty juices.
A Burger sauce is the icing on the cake. It brings everything together. It finishes the burger perfectly, with a sweet, salty, hot, and fatty punch.
Everything else is down to personal choice, but I believe the above is a good foundation to create the perfect burger.
So now you know what goes into a burger, but what is a Smash Burger?? It started life in 2007, as the name of a fast food chain in America. Now a global company, with franchises in 9 countries. They developed the technique of 'smashing' a ball of mince on a griddle heated to 385 °F (196 °C) and then pressing it hard using a special tool for 10 seconds to flatten it. Burgers are not typically pressed again after they have begun to cook, as once the patty is heated to the point that fat begins to melt, pressing the burger will squeeze the juices out, and cause it to dry out. The technique of smashing, caramelizes the bottom of the patty onto the buttered griddle and locks the juices into the burger. This prevents the juices from escaping, and also marinades the burger in its own juices. This technique allows you to cook burgers in three minutes, whereas, a traditional burger can take up to eight minutes to cook.
Now it has been said that the uneven edges caused by
pressing the patty allows for extra caramelization to the meat. I need
to look in to this further, but this in theory would not happen as only
the meat that is in contact with the hot surface would caramelize. If you think
of the patty as your hand (don't try to use your hand to prove this!)
The flat of your palm and back of hand would be in contact with the heat
source and not the sides of your fingers.
To cook a smash burger on a barbecue you need three things:
A Plancha, fire plate or hot-plate. You can't do a smash burger on a regular grill grate because everything will just land in the coals. A hot plate or plancha can usually purchsed for either a gas or charcoal grill and if (like me) you have a kamado then look out for the giant fire plates that you can buy.
A Spatula. Use a flat iron to be absolutely original but I've chosen to buy a rigid straight edged spatula. Not only does this allow you to apply downward pressure onto the patty, it's also great for scraping debris off the plancha at the end of the cook.
A Cloche. This is the hood that you put over the burger to steam it, melt the cheese and (if you wish) soften the bun.
Serves:- 4 people
Preparation Time:- 10 minutes
Cooking Time:- 3 minutes
Total Time:- 15 minutes max
Milk (cheese, brioche)
Note: See ingredients on store bought sauces and bacon
The Burger Mix
Liquid for Steaming:
1 Combine all of the burger mix.
2. Measure out into 113g 1/4Lb balls
3. Place in the fridge to form
4. Get the plancha up to temp (adding a spot of liquid should see it dance about on the plancha). I used my Monolith ICON fitted with the Fire Plate Accessory
5. Slightly oil the plancha and drop the ball of mince onto it.
6. Gently but firmly press the ball down onto the plancha with a spatula or burger iron to form a flat patty
7. Season the top of the patty with salt
8. Place the streaky bacon on to cook
9. After 2 mins flip the patty and season
10. Add your cheese slices, after 1 minute stack the patties (if more than one per burger), squirt on some beer (or water) and place the cloche over it.
11. Toast the inside of the baps on the plancha
12. Time to build your smash burger, add a leaf of lettuce and a slice of tomato to the bottom half of the bap. Cover the top of the bap with burger sauce of choice.
13. Using a spatula, remove the patties from under the cloche and add it to the bottom half of the bap.
14. Add the cooked bacon slices, gherkins and place the top of the bap on.