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Old 02-02-2012, 10:37 PM   #1
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Smash Burger on Fox news today - Taboo method???

The owner and founder of Smash Burgers was on my local Fox news this morning proudly showing off his new company as most promising according to Forbes. That's great for them and I can't wait to try their burgers but the burning question isn't that sacrilege what they do with the burger during the cooking process.

All my life chefs and food experts have told us never to press on the patty because all the juices will run out so what the heck? Any chefs or better yet someone who cooks hamburgers for a living comment why this method works? or they shouldn't be doing this...

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Old 02-02-2012, 10:54 PM   #2
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Interesting. I agree with you, in that I would never "smash" the patty during cooking. The only reason I can think of is that it would keep the patty relatively thin, which is the style of many restaurants.
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:07 PM   #3
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When I was a kid, my dad would take my brother and I to this dive bar for burgers. By today's standards they did everything wrong. They overhandled the meat, salted it before cooking, and steamed, rather than toasted, the buns. And yes, the guy behind the bar pressed the patties with his spatula. Those burgers were absolutely awesome, though.
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:37 PM   #4
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my norwegian uncles used to take my sisters and i to the danish club in brooklyn when we were small for delicious burgers just like that, steve.

i remember them telling my mom that it was ok because we didn't have to drink that much before thinking the burgers were really good...
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:32 AM   #5
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I'd imagine it's done to accommodate the realities of the typical hamburger joint. As much as we might like our nice fat burgers at home and though we know they are best cooked medium, patties draw up as they cook and get higher in the center, more like flat meatballs than disks. That might be two problems for the burger biz. One is that if it draws up to where it doesn't show around the rim of the sandwich, it looks like they shorted the customer on meat. And if it draws in and sits high, it's more difficult to eat and more likely to fall apart in the bag on the way home. And they no doubt learned a long time ago that a lot of their customers will send back a medium patty, claiming that it's uncooked, but few will send it back for being well done.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
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I'd imagine it's done to accommodate the realities of the typical hamburger joint. As much as we might like our nice fat burgers at home and though we know they are best cooked medium, patties draw up as they cook and get higher in the center, more like flat meatballs than disks. That might be two problems for the burger biz. One is that if it draws up to where it doesn't show around the rim of the sandwich, it looks like they shorted the customer on meat. And if it draws in and sits high, it's more difficult to eat and more likely to fall apart in the bag on the way home. And they no doubt learned a long time ago that a lot of their customers will send back a medium patty, claiming that it's uncooked, but few will send it back for being well done.
Add 1 raw egg per pound of ground beef and it no longer shrinks and fattens. It just stays juicy. Also, make the burger pattie thinner in the middle and it will come out as a flat disk. But then, like you said, at burger joints, they don't have time to form a burger by hand the same way I do at home.

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Old 02-03-2012, 10:00 AM   #7
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I worked at a burger joint in high school, best in town, where the cooks did the smash and season thing too. The burgers were delicious.
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kroll View Post
When I was a kid, my dad would take my brother and I to this dive bar for burgers. By today's standards they did everything wrong. They overhandled the meat, salted it before cooking, and steamed, rather than toasted, the buns. And yes, the guy behind the bar pressed the patties with his spatula. Those burgers were absolutely awesome, though.
I used to eat at a place just like that. The burgers were awesome. So much for being the wrong way to do it.....
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:28 AM   #9
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Absolutely. Can't let foodie snobbery get in the way of appreciation of a gold ole greasy, well-done burger on a griddled white bread bun. The problem comes when fast food joints try to make it non-drippy and use badly abused lettuce and tomato. The epitome of the good ole burger will be fondly remembered by anyone who ever attended the University of Texas at Austin where Dirty Martin's, universally known as Dirty's, lies lurking across the drag where it's been since 1926 and where it was dramatically upgraded from dirt flour to concrete in 1951. The beef has never seen the inside of a freezer, and comes out with all the qualities you can't get with anything even remotely described as lean. Backed up by fries of the kind you rarely see anymore. Sort of small outfit where employees make a career out of working a burger joint and stay for 30, 40 and 50 years.
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:34 AM   #10
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I have always pressed my burgers. It also cooks quicker and more evenly, which is very important in the business. The trick is to flatten it early on in the cooking process so the fats and juices aren't totally liquified yet and they don't run out. And the quicker you can cook meat, the less moisture you will lose in the process. When I am working in the restaurant, I brown one side for a couple of minutes, then flip and flatten. Sometimes I leave the spatula on top. If you flatten the pattie very thin and much larger than you need to start, by the time it shrinks up it is the perfect size for your burger. So flatten it much larger than the diameter of your bun. And, you don't lose any moisture in the process because the fats are still solid.

One place I worked at featured this colossal 12 oz burger pattie which we had to cook up from fresh. The diameter of the bun was about 8 inches. We used to flip it, and then put a small pizza pan on top and then a pot of water on top of the pan to weigh it down and keep it even thickness while cooking. It worked great.

Those two sided grills that McDonalds use are actually a great idea because they keep the burgers flattened out during the cooking process and all but eliminate shrinkage. Too bad the meat they put in there is crap.
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