Smash Burgers vs. Restaurant-Style Burgers
Both deserve to be had this summer and beyond
When it comes to a summer barbecue, burgers are absolutely a part of the equation. But when it comes to burger style of choice, which camp do you fall into: smash burger or restaurant-style?
When we asked ICE New York’s Lead Chef and Operations Manager Joshua Resnick the very same question, it was as if it was a page out of "Sophie’s Choice."
"They’re two different experiences," Chef Joshua says. "I think the nice thing about different types of burgers is that, no matter how you’re feeling, there’s a burger that fits your mood."
If you’ve ever had a burger at any quintessential diner worth its weight in cups of coffee, there’s a 99% chance that the burger you had was, indeed, a smash burger. Smash burgers are exactly what they sound like: small round patties of ground meat (typically chuck) that are simply seasoned with salt and pepper before being — literally — smashed on a hot griddle or skillet. (If you've had a burger from Shake Shack, congratulations, you've had a smash burger.)
When it comes to smash burger preference, Chef Joshua opts for the Oklahoma-style burger, which was developed in the Sooner State during the Great Depression when meat was hard to come by. "It was a way to add in cheap products to make the sandwich feel…bigger," he says.
That said, Chef Joshua also loves a more elevated take to the humble burger, like the one served at one-Michelin-starred Gramercy Tavern, where he once worked the line. There, the burger is topped with cheddar cheese, Bibb lettuce and pickled red onion, and served with duck fat chips and smoked onion aioli. (We love potatoes fried in duck fat.)
"Do you want the greasy spoon experience with American cheese, ketchup and onion that’s on a potato bun, or are you feeling like you want to see what a chef does with a burger as a template and see how they adjust it," he says. "Then it’s almost like a fine dining meal that’s in your hand, but it’s relatable."
It’s the end of August — do yourself a solid and serve up both styles for your end-of-summer barbecue. Napkins required.
Classic Smash Burger
- Canola oil
- 4 ounces ground beef
- 1/2 yellow onion, very thinly sliced
- 2 slices American cheese
- Potato bun
- Preheat a griddle over medium-high heat.
- Form the meat into a loose ball. Do not overwork the beef as this will prevent it from spreading thin while cooking.
- Place a small amount of canola oil on the griddle. Season the meat well with salt and pepper.
- Place the meat on the griddle and press with a weight to spread thin. Apply pressure for 30 seconds to ensure meat holds the shape before removing pressure but leaving the weight.
- Once the meat is golden brown and a good crust has formed, remove the weight and top the meat with the onions in an even layer. Flip the meat and press again to sear the onions. Allow to cook for 30 seconds with pressure being applied.
- Remove the weight and top with American cheese slices. Cook until melted.
- Spread a thin layer of mayo over the cut side of the buns and toast until brown. Place the cooked burger on the bun. Serve with ketchup.
- Brioche bun, sliced in half
- 6 ounces ground beef blend (a mix of filet and hanger)
- Cheddar cheese
- Burger sauce (recipe follows)
- Pickled onions (recipe follows)
- Form your ground beef blend into a thick patty. Season with salt and cracked black pepper.
- Add small amount of oil to nonstick pan or griddle heated to medium-high. Add burger and cook for 5 minutes; flip and cook for 3 minutes for medium-rare.
- Place burger on sizzle platter and top with cheddar cheese, and place in salamander until cheese melts.
- Meanwhile, toast brioche bun cut side down.
- Plate the burger: slather a large helping of burger sauce on the bottom of the bun. Top with burger, tomato slice, pickled onions, lettuce and top of the bun. Serve immediately.
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup grilled yellow onions, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix to combine; reserve in refrigerator until needed.
- 1 large red onion, sliced into rings
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
- 1/2 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 pieces clove
- Place onions in mason jar.
- In a pot, combine vinegar, sugar, water and salt; heat over high heat and whisk until sugar and salt dissolve.
- Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients, and steep for 5 minutes.
- Pour pickling liquid over the onions, place plastic wrap directly on the surface and cool until it gets to room temperature.
- Seal with a lid and store until use.