When is it OK to smash a burger while you cook it?

burgersIt’s burger week around these parts.

Restaurant critic Matthew Odam and I teamed up for a bunch of burger stories this week, starting with my story today about how to cook better burgers at home.

We didn’t realize that National Cheeseburger Day is Friday, but that’s the day Odam’s list of his favorite 15 burgers in Austin comes out. Let’s just say that there are a few notable names NOT on that list, so keep your eyes peeled for it.

In the meantime, here’s a link to my story in today’s food section, where you can find a couple of cool fancy burger recipes.

But let’s be honest: Most of us are just trying to inch a little closer to those elaborate chef burgers you’ll find on Matthew’s list. Maybe we’ll use aioli or a fancy bun, for instance. Instead of grinding our own beef by hand, maybe we muster the courage to ask the butcher to grind a special cut to mix in with the ground chuck we usually buy.

Here’s one idea that might surprise you: Cooking a burger on a skillet or on griddle simply so you can smash it.

Since I moved into my new house earlier this year, I haven’t replaced my old rotted out Weber grill, so I am frying burgers on the stove. “In a skillet?!” I can hear you shout. Yes, in a cast iron skillet. I prefer charcoal-grilled burgers, but while researching that story this week, I found a whole bunch of science about why you might prefer to cook on a flat top. The biggest advantage is that when you aren’t cooking on a grate, you can smash the raw meat as soon as it hits the hot surface. That’s the secret to some of the world’s best burgers, including one of my personal favorites, Steak and Shake. The only thing to keep in mind is that you need to be pouring off the fat or else you’ll end up simmering the meat in grease, which isn’t a good look.

I’d love to hear your hard-earned wisdom for making better burgers. Have a great seasoning or mix-in? What’s your favorite cheese or topping? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.



Author: Addie Broyles

Food writer for the Austin American-Statesman and Austin360.com.

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