Burgers cooking on the BBQ are ubiquitous with warm, sunny summer days. Yet they can quickly become repetitive and ordinary. How to make them … well, less ordinary?
Through chance experiment we discovered that chestnut mushrooms, Dizzy Pig Red Eye Express rub and a little butter combine to exhibit an umami-like taste. Very left field and unexpected. So we used those ingredients in crafting some truly outstanding smash burgers.
Umami Smash Burgers
Smash Burgers? Umami?
Umami is a taste, that along with sweet, sour, bitter and salt comprise the five basic tastes. It is “brothy” or “meaty” and slightly savory, leaving a lingering sensation. It is sometimes associated (rightly or wrongly) with Asian foods.
Smash burgers are burgers cooked using a three-step technique:
- Cook balls of meat (e.g. quarter pound) directly on a pre-heated hot surface.
- Flip balls of meat and flatten (or smash down) to patties about ½inch thick.
- Flip patties to cook the other side.
Takes about 60-90 seconds cooking for each step. Whilst non-stick frying pans on a hob can be used, you get better results from using a higher heat source and cast iron surface. This allows some lovely crisp caramelisation to occur on the burger’s surface and edges. For more information on smash burgers, check out the Serious Eats website.
- Mixing bowl
- Chopping board
- Sharp knife
- Cast iron searing surface, e.g. frying pan, skillet
- Large thin spatula
- Instant read (IR) temperature gun
Beef mince comes in a range of meat/fat ratios. I find an 80/20 mix works well for burgers. The ingredients below make four 4oz burgers.
- 400g beef mince
- 50g chestnut mushroom
- 1 tbsp Dizzy Pig Red Eye Express rub
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 shallot (optional)
- 1 small egg
For garnishes, it’s personal choice. I use coleslaw (NY deli style) as a spread for the base, along with crispy bacon, cheese, sliced gherkins and tomatoes for toppings.
These can be cooked on a stove or a Big Green Egg (pictured below). The timings cook medium burgers, if you want medium-rare or rare, reduce the amount of time the burgers are cooked after the two flips.
- Pre-heat cooking surface for 5-10 mins. For an Egg, get it to 300°C/570°F and let cooking surface warm up for 10 mins or until the surface temperature reads 300°C/570°F with an IR temperature gun.
- Finely dice shallot. Combine with egg, mushroom, beef mince and Red Eye Express rub in a bowl. Hand mix and make four equally sized balls of meat.
- Place balls of meat onto oiled cooking surface. Cook for 1 min. If cooking with an Egg, close the dome.
- Carefully burp and open the Egg. Flip balls of meat over and flatten into patty shapes around ½inch thick. Cook for 1.5 mins. To keep burger crust intact, ensure spatula goes completely underneath each patty. If cooking with an Egg, close the dome.
- Carefully open and burp the Egg. Flip patties once more, ensuring spatula goes completely under each one. Cook for 1.5 mins. Warm brioche buns on Egg or in oven. If cooking with an Egg, close the dome.
- Create burgers with mayo or coleslaw on base, then burgers. Top with tomato slices, cheese, bacon, gherkins and whatever else takes your fancy.
Hints, Tips and Pictures
- To prevent flare-ups on the Egg, when opening the Egg close the bottom grate completely to starve the oxygen supply. Then re-open a little when the dome is closed.
- Heat up the spatula prior to flipping the patties, this prevents sticking.
- For ultra thin burgers, you can make 8 2oz patties with this recipe. Depends on how you like your burger.
- The Dizzy Pig Red Eye Express rub is available in the UK from Amazon.co.uk (affiliate link), BBQ Gourmet and Riverside Garden Centre. Or use an umami paste from a supermarket.
- Prepare the toppings either before or whilst the cooking surfaces are heating up.
- For a cheeseburger (single or double), place some cheese on top of some of the burgers during the last cooking phase. It will melt into the burger when served, especially if a double cheeseburger is on the menu.
- Try with venison mince instead of beef, it works well, giving the burger a more gamey taste.
- Ensure that your cooking surface is level, or the oil will flow onto one side. And spill over if you’re using a surface with no sides, not good on a heat source with live flames!