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The Mistake You're Making When Pressing Smash Burgers

Smash burger with French fries
Smash burger with French fries - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Smash burgers -- those super flat burgers made with minced beef and salted to perfection -- are all the rage. If you are eating a burger, this is the fried meat patty you want layered between your bun. But when you are making the ultimate smash burger, one of the biggest mistakes home cooks make involves the smashing technique. When smashing the meat, most people don't use enough force to flatten the meat.

This culinary gaffe causes two problems. The first is you have a smash burger that is too thick, meaning, you've really just made a normal hamburger, but that is the least of your problems. The second, and more offensive issue, is you have a dry burger with a less-than-stellar crust. So how can you overcome this flattening catastrophe?

To get the crispy, caramelized edge you know and love when you eat a smash burger, it is mission-critical to smash the round of beef as flat as you can. To do so, at the very least, you will need a spatula, but if you have a burger press, that is the optimal tool for this task. When you smash your burger, you want to start with loosely packed meat and place it in a hot cast iron skillet. Once you apply pressure -- and lots of it, you don't want these burger babies to be more than 1 cm deep, so press firmly; any thicker and it's really not a smash burger.

Read more: Tips You Need When Cooking With Ground Beef

The Crust Sets It Apart

Hands making a smash burger
Hands making a smash burger - guys_who_shoot/Shutterstock

What does this pop of pressure do to your burger? When you smash your meat, you are essentially pushing out all the juices with the payoff being the beautiful, savory, brown crust that forms as it cooks. This is where that wonderful Maillard reaction comes into play, giving you all the tastes and smells you hope for when eating this beloved backyard party food. Once you've smashed your meat, let it cook so it can get nice and crispy. This will take as little as a minute to two minutes, so don't wander away. And when you flip it, be sure the crispy crust stays on the burger -- it's the best part.

Don't worry if your smash burger is not perfectly formed, because it shouldn't be. Your goal is to achieve a caramelized crust that is juicy and savory to the bite. Once you have that, you can build your smash burger with all the trimmings -- a little bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and whatever sauces and condiments you want.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.