Grilling is a preferred cooking method for many people in the summer. But there are times when it is so hot and humid outside that one would like to stand bathed in sweat over a hot grill.
Why not cook it in a pan on those nights when you’re still in the mood for a burger?
Smash Burger – the apt name for hamburger meatballs that are chopped up into thin patties when placed on a flat top or hot pan – not only come together in a jiffy, but may also be the best tasting burgers. If you sear the meat in a hot pan, it will caramelize and form a nice crust. And because it cooks very quickly in its own fat, you don’t have to worry about the burgers drying out as long as you don’t smash them again after turning them.
Traditional toppings call for pickles, chopped lettuce, diced onions and a good dash of salty and sweet special sauce. And don’t forget the slices of American cheese!
This recipe requires stacking two burgers between three buns, which makes it a handful, not to mention messy to eat. So make sure you have a stack of napkins.
Double Decker Smash Burger with Secret Sauce
2 tablespoons of sweet cucumber relish
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound ground beef, 70% lean
4 slices of orange or white American cheese
4 hamburger buns, plus 4 hamburger bun bottoms
1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup dill pickle chips, homemade or in a jar
Prepare the sauce: Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Season to taste and adjust spices.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Prepare Burgers: Divide ground beef into 8 2-ounce servings and carefully shape each into a large, loose ball. Don’t shape meatballs – you’ll smash the burgers in the pan.
Heat a cast iron grill pan or large stainless steel pan over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes (a drop of water should sizzle in the pan), then brush lightly with vegetable oil or butter.
Place 4 meatballs on the hot grill plate and smash them with a spatula for a few seconds to form 4-inch patties. Don’t worry if they’re not perfectly round, but they should be wide and flat; You want to sear the bottom of the patty in the heated cooking surface for about 10 seconds.
Season generously with salt and fry the patties without touching them until the outer edges are brown, approx. 2 minutes. Turn the meatballs over, season with more salt, and cook for another minute or so, until the burgers are medium-sized. Lift onto an ovenproof plate and place in the oven to keep it warm.
Repeat with the remaining 4 meatballs, adding a slice of cheese each time you turn the burgers. Cook until the cheese starts to melt and the burgers are medium, about 1 minute.
Assemble the burger: Spread a generous amount of sauce over 4 bread rolls, then top with a burger from the oven, pickles and lettuce. Place the bun base on top of each burger and sprinkle a little more sauce over it. Add a cheeseburger, along with more lettuce, chopped onions, and cucumber chips, plus a little more sauce if you really like your burgers messy.
Top each burger with a top bun and serve immediately with plenty of napkins.
– Gretchen McKay, Post-Gazette
(c) the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2021
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