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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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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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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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Old 02-03-2012, 11:07 AM   #11
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Cook ours (6 oz. ea.) in a Griswold skillet for 3 minutes max each side under a cast iron Lodge grill press.
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:20 AM   #12
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When shaping your burgers, press down the middle and it will reduce the amount of shrinkage that occurs when cooking.
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:29 AM   #13
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As a former short-order cook, let me put my 2C in.

First off, the idea of a "proper" burger being thick and cooked medium-rare is a relatively new phenom. It's a hunk of chopped meat (cheap meat, at that), for cripes sake, not a rib eye. GLC's phrase, "foodie snobbery" is right on the mark in this regard.

Until celebrity chef's discovered they could turn burgers into gourmet food, and charge 25-90 bucks for them*, 90% or more burgers were cooked on a flattop or charcoal grill, and were pressed down with a spat. Pressing not only flattens the burger, it assures that it is cooked through as quickly as possible. The fact that they were cooked medium-well to well is irrelevent. That's how America preferred them.

Despite the "mistreatment," there was still plenty of grease to go around.

Y'all know those five holes in the original slider? Know what they were for? They're there so the burger can cook through without even having to be turned. Speed is everything when you're cooking short-order.

So, yeah. Press them down if you wish. If you don't, and are concerned about that central hump forming, it's easy to prevent. After you form the patty, put a double thumbprint in the center of one side. The meat will grow into depression, and make it even with the rest of the burger.

*Question: Other than profit for the restuarant, is there anything as counter-to-its-purpose as a burger made from wagu beef?
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Old 02-03-2012, 12:25 PM   #14
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*Question: Other than profit for the restuarant, is there anything as counter-to-its-purpose as a burger made from wagu beef?
Truffled Ketchup?

Caviar Velveeta melt on Wonder Bread?

Grouse Pot Pie?

Barbecue'd Veal?

Pine Nut Butter?

"At $99, the Double Truffle Hamburger at DB Bistro Moderne in Manhattan gives new meaning to the term whopper. The burger contains three ounces of rib meat mixed with truffles and foie gras stuffed inside seven ounces of sirloin steak and served on a Parmesan and poppy seed bun, with salad and truffle shavings. For penny-pinchers and calorie counters, the Single Truffle version is a mere $59."
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Old 02-03-2012, 12:34 PM   #15
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"At $99, the Double Truffle Hamburger at DB Bistro Moderne in Manhattan gives new meaning to the term whopper. The burger contains three ounces of rib meat mixed with truffles and foie gras stuffed inside seven ounces of sirloin steak and served on a Parmesan and poppy seed bun, with salad and truffle shavings. For penny-pinchers and calorie counters, the Single Truffle version is a mere $59."
I better get dressed in a hurry and catch the next train to NY before they sell out. Do you know if they have one of those street vending trucks parked somewhere. I would hate to have to wait for a table.
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Old 02-03-2012, 12:44 PM   #16
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"At $99, the Double Truffle Hamburger

One reason for the switch to rare and medium rare is ingredients like this. Being as there is no fat, to speak of, it's easy for the meat to dry out and turn to cardboard. But if we cook it rare......

Long before the gourmet burger thing I had a boss who insisted on using ground sirloin for burgers. His idea was that it was a better quality meat, and therefore would make a better burger.

Of course, he's not the one who had to handle as many as 30 burgers on the flattop at one time, and keep them from burning due to the lack of fat. Plus he missed the mark entirely: fat=flavor.

IMO, the best meat for burgers is ground chuck. It has the perfect ratio of fat to lean, is inexpensive (particularly if you grind your own), and handles well on the grill or griddle.
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Old 02-03-2012, 12:49 PM   #17
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Grouse Pot Pie?

Surely not?
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Old 02-03-2012, 01:16 PM   #18
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First of all, meat should always be salted before it cooks.

That said, my favorite burger is one I cook in a screaming hot cast iron skillet with a very thin 80/20 patty smashed down on a slice of onion
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Old 02-03-2012, 01:40 PM   #19
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I smash my patties before I put them on the grill. My burgers rock.
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Old 02-03-2012, 01:45 PM   #20
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First of all, meat should always be salted before it cooks.
I agree, but I only salt burgers immediately before grilling them. The guys I'm talking about actually mixed the salt into the ground beef before forming the patties and putting them on the grill. Everything I've read says that makes for tough burgers.
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