Courtesy Jenn de la Vega, Showdown: Comfort Food, Chili and BBQ (Page Street Publishing, 2017)
“The idea of this burger mix came from James Beard via another cook named Jeanne Owen. Originally, you grated onion into the meat. I like to use the less intense flavor of shallots with the smoky flavor of paprika. Instead of using burger buns that get soggy halfway through eating them, I took a page from Prune’s Gabrielle Hamilton, who uses English muffins for her burgers. They’re sturdy and toast up well.” —Jenn de la Vega
Total Cooking Time: 1 hour active, 30 minutes passive
- 2 pounds ground round beef
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 small shallots, grated
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 6 slices white cheddar cheese
- ⅓ cup Meyer Lemon Mayo
- ⅓ cup Romantic Romesco
- 6 English muffins
- 6 slices tomato
- 6 leaves Boston lettuce
- Wavy potato chips, optional
Combine the beef, heavy cream, shallot, garlic, salt and paprika. Fold the mixture delicately, careful not to overwork the meat. It is okay if it is studded visibly with shallot. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Using gloved hands, toss the meat one more time and then form 6 evenly-sized patties. Using your thumb, dent each burger with your thumb and then pinch from the center around the edges, as if you’re making a really shallow ash tray.
Preheat the oven to 200°F.
Prepare a grill with a hot side and a cool side for resting burgers. Grill the burgers for 2 minutes and brush with butter. Flip and grill for 4 minutes, brush with more butter.
Rest the burgers on the cool side of the grill and place a slice of cheese on each one or store them on a sheet pan in the oven. Spread Meyer Lemon Mayo on one half of English muffin and toast on the grill. Assemble like so: bread, a spoonful of Romesco, cheese, burger, tomato, lettuce and bread. Enjoy with a bag of wavy chips; those are my favorite to have with burgers. Serves 6–8.
I love In-N-Out and smashed burgers. There’s something about the increased surface area that yields more crisp potential. Plus it’s really fun to smash something on a hot surface. Makes you feel all-powerful.
Place a cast-iron pan on high heat. Instead of forming a meat mix, form 6 large meatballs. Replace the butter with clarified butter or ghee. It cooks better at high heat and doesn’t burn as much. Beware of flare-ups near the edge of the pan. Turn on your vent; this dish will smoke!
Before cooking, brush the pan quickly with butter and then put in the meatball. Smash it down on the hot grill as flat as you can with a spatula or iron press. Cook for 2 minutes and then carefully flip it. Finish in the pan for another 2 minutes. Assemble and devour.
Odfjell 2017 Orzada Made With Organic Grapes Carignan (Maule Valley); $21, 90 points. Ripe blackberry and dark plum aromas are aided by well-applied oak that gives off a note of maple. A high-intensity palate is full of fruit, which allows this to be both tough and lush. Bold flavors of wild berry and dark spices end with smoky notes and a hint of chocolate. Drink through 2023. Foley Family Wines. —Michael Schachner