Rich, crusty brown outtards, juicy innards, melty cheese in between. Deliciously beguiling.
Beguiling burger patties = Damn good cheeseburger!
This isn't really a recipe, but a 'way'. A way to reap results that will make you softly exclaim, "Ohmygawdthatsgood!"
A means to an end. Cause and effect. Chain of circumstances. A delicious nexus.
Firstly, let me throw profuse gratitude and big, juicy, thank-yous to J. Kenji López-Alt, of SeriousEats.com for his Food Lab post, showing me the way to make these irresistible, smashed cheeseburgers.
Secondly, my condolences to those of you who only like big, plump, extra lean, gently handled, grilled burgers. I totally understand, really, I do. But, but......you don't know what you are missing.
Okay, now let's get on with these smashing cheeseburgers.
To get the ball rolling (Ha! I kill me!), pack two ounces of not-too-lean hamburger into a nice little ball. Not-too-lean 'cuz you need 'enough fat to get a good sizzle, without adding any oil to your pan'. If you do not have a kitchen scale, which I totally recommend for a whole schwack of reasons (like they are fun to use, and crazily accurate), then you'll have to guesstimate. A two-ounce ball is a bit bigger than a golf ball. Maybe like a golf ball with it's winter coat on.
Anyway, once you pack one ball, pack another ball. Two balls per cheeseburger.
You're going to cook these patties in a HOT stainless or cast iron frying pan/skillet. I use a heavy duty, high quality non-stick pan, with excellent results. However, The Food Lab states not to use a non-stick pan, as these pans should not get too hot. So maybe I do not reach the recommended high temperature, for the dry pan, before sizzling the patties, but I certainly do get the desired, rich, brown crust every time.
Cooking time in the pre-heated skillet is quick. Zip zap quick!!
You place the nicely-packed, two-ounce burger balls into the hot pan and immediately squish them FLAT, with a metal or hard plastic spatula. Press hard = flat = yum.
Within about one minute, the patties have developed a nice crust.
With the same 'stiff' spatula, carefully scrape up and flip those skinny patties. As soon as you flip them, plop cheese on top of one of the patties, then stack the second patty on top.
Within seconds you are ready to transfer these cheesed-patties to a bun that has been buttered and grilled in a pan, ahead of time, and layered with your fave condiments.
Chain of circumstances = smash, smash, flip, flip, stack, melt, stack, attack.
Many, many, thank-yous to J. Kenji López-Alt's Food Lab post, for these 3 how-to photos.
The Serious Eats Food Lab states: "See, by placing a ball of meat on a hot, un-oiled griddle and smashing it down firmly into a flat, thin disk, you greatly increase the contact points between the meat and the griddle, which in turn increases the Maillard reaction. That's the series of chemical reactions that create the rich brown crust that makes our steaks and burgers taste so freaking good. Maximum crust = maximum flavor = maximum craving"
Soooo, my friends, even if you are only remotely inclined towards skinny burger patties, do it. Seriously, you must. Smash away!
Just in case you need a little more convincing, this one's for you......
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SMASHED CHEESEBURGERS - Makes 1 burger
1 soft hamburger bun, buttered and pan toasted/grilled
Condiments and toppings of your choice, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, shredded lettuce, sweet onion slices, fresh tomato slices, pickles.
4 ounces ground beef, divided and packed into two 2-ounce balls
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 slice good melting cheese
Prepare toasty burger bun by laying toppings on bottom and top of bun, to suit your fancy. Have bun nearby and ready to receive your cooked burger stack.
Preheat a large stainless steel skillet over high heat for about 2 minutes. Place balls of beef in pan and immediately smash flat with a stiff spatula, using a second spatula to add pressure, if needed. Work fast. Smashed patties should be slightly wider than the burger bun.
Season generously with salt and pepper and allow to cook until patties are well browned and tops are beginning to turn pale pink/gray in spots, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Using stiff spatula, carefully scrape patties from pan, making sure to get all of the browned bits.
Flip patties and place a slice of cheese over 1 patty. Stack the second patty directly on top. Remove from pan and transfer to waiting burger bun. Serve. Softly exclaim, "Ohmygawdthatsgood!"
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