One of the foods I really missed in lockdown was a good burger. As we were in the countryside we couldn’t even get a takeaway, although I believe most burger restaurants were closed anyway.
§So there wasn’t much to do but make my own. And since I had a hot Aga to cook on, I thought it was the perfect time to finally try the smash burger. It sounds complicated, but it’s in fact a super simple burger, made from only minced beef, salt and papper, that you sort of smash down on a hot surface to cook, creating lovely crispy bits as it’s not round and uniform. My favourite burger chain Shake Shack does this and their patties are lovely!
I made smash burgers a few times and even though they all turned out quite well, I did learn a few things through trial and error that I thought would be helpful to share:
- The cooking surface (be it an Aga – if so use the hottest plate, a frying pan, or a sheet pan on the barbecue – yes, I’ve tried that too!) needs to be HOT. Very hot! Sizzling hot. Especially as I like my burger a bit pink in the middle.
- Divide the mince into smaller burgers creating thin crispy patties that you can layer, rather than one fat patty. This was you get more crispy bits, a juicier centre and all around a nicer burger.
- The coarseness of the mince matters. I’ve found that finely ground mince works the best here as it holds together better and makes it easier to make flat patties.
- The fat content matters a lot. The best would of course be to buy beef and fat and mince it yourself at home, but if you buy minced beef in the shop make sure you get as much fat as you can. Minimum 12% but 20% is the dream. Lean beef is not for burgers as the flavour is in the fat.
Smash burgers, serves 2
This is based on two double burgers, if you prefer a single burger just add more buns and toppings.
400 g finely ground good quality 20 % fat beef mince
salt and pepper
4 plastic cheese slices
2 good quality (the softer the better!) brioche burger buns
2 lettuce leaves
2 tomato slices
1 batch Fake Shack sauce
other toppings of choice
Remove the meat from the fridge an hour before cooking. Once at room temperature, divide the meat into 4 sections that hold together. Unwrap the cheese and get the lettuce, sauce and tomatoes ready. Cut the buns in half.
Pre-heat the oven to 175C. Add a little bit of oil to coat your cooking surface (frying pan, Aga sheet or oven tray on the barbecue) and heat on really high heat.
Add the meat, leaving lots of space around. Do batches rather than crowding the pan if not much room and flatten the meat down hard with a spatula. Hold down to get crispy bits. Turn the burger around and cook the other side. Season well on both sides and add cheese. Let it melt properly then remove from pan to a plate and let rest for a minute.
Toast the burger buns in the oven for approx 30 seconds. Then build your burger. Shack sauce on both bun halves. Lettuce on the bottom half, followed by the burger, tomato slice and top bun.