Cooking Our Patties

We use a griddle (a flat top grill). We recently started using a chrome one (easier to keep the sear with the beef, better heat distribution). For us, there’s no contest between a flat grill and a chargrill. A flat grill has the most surface area to touch the beef, providing the most even and extensive sear. Char marks are not desirable (the char mark lobby is obviously quite powerful?!); they are symbolic of a missed Maillard opportunity (Maillard is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that results in the browning of a sear, and the delicious flavour that follows). Think of char lines as flavour jail. We don’t smash our patty on this grill, as has become increasingly in fashion (thanks to Shake Shack). Smash style refers to taking the ball of minced meat for a burger (usually 100g), and pressing it down on the grill with a spatula or a burger press. Proponents talk about the better sear it produces (and it does give you a great sear…ON ONE SIDE!!). But we don’t smash, even though it’s significantly easier than our multiflip, no smash method. The reason? It goes back to patty size, patty to bun ratio, and all the effort we put into producing the best mince we possibly can. After all that effort, why would you compress the mince into the thinnest possible patty? Not to mention only getting a good sear on one side (while also overcooking the patty on that side, blasphemous, I know), and not being able to properly season the entirety of the patty (it’s practically impossible to evenly salt a not flat surface like a ball of meat). Food scientists who have run trials of flipping steaks and burger patties have shown that the ideal amount of time between flips is around a minute on a very hot grill; the rationale is that the side not on the grill doesn’t get too cool, while the side on the grill doesn’t get too hot (and start to overcook the layer of meat 5mm below the surface). So for ideal internal cooking, the best bet is to flip multiple times. These are not important considerations if you just use any old ground meat, don’t mind it being cooked until there’s little to no pink left, and don’t mind it being too thin for anything but a fast food style bun. This is how burgers were made for the some 75+ years. But we think it’s better to have a patty with some thickness to it (but not too much, otherwise the crust gets lost compared to inside of the beef patty), so the juices have an opportunity to find little nooks and crannies (until your teeth find them!)…so we don’t smash it.

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