Smash burgers quickly became my favourite thing to cook on my Weber Kettle, especially after buying a plancha. It’s such a simple cook, almost too simple – but the results can be great. I’m constantly tweaking the way I cook and prepare the burgers. My aim is to achieve as close as I can to the classic ‘Five Guys’ burger as I can.
Most will tell you that you need a good blend of meat and fat to create the best smash burgers. I’ve experimented with this a little. In my most recent trip to my local butchers, I had them grind up a rolled brisket! I bought around 1.5kg of the mix and had them split it in bags of 320(ish) grams. From my experiments thus far, this should make 4 burgers at the optimum size for a quick cook.
The first thing you need is a screaming hot cooking surface. I tend to heat enough coals that the centre of my plancha will be super hot. Leave the outer edges cooler – in case you plan on cooking any onions, bacon etc. It takes maybe 15-20 minutes for my chimney starter, full of lump wood charcoal, to be ‘ready’. If you’re only cooking smash burgers (plus the extras) you shouldn’t need a huge amount of charcoal. Once your coal is ready, you need to get it into the kettle and get the plancha in place so that it can come up to temp. This is where you can prep the burgers, it will take longer to prepare them than to cook them!
I find it easier to have everything ready and take it all to the grill at once. The burgers won’t take too long to cook, and it is easy to overcook, so you want to be prepared. I’ll typically head to the grill with a small plate, containing 4 equal sized balls of the burger mince. I’ll also have the serving plates ready, with a bun on each. You can have the American cheese on the plate ready to add too. The buns will have a little mayonnaise spread on them, this gives a great taste and finish when you toast them for a few seconds on the planche before the burgers are ready.
If you’re planning on cooking any extras for the burgers, you can work on these in advance of the plancha being up to heat, they can continue to cook on the edges once the burgers go on.
On the hottest area of the plancha, place your four burger meatballs. Make sure that you leave space for them to flatten without touching the others. Using your tool of choice (I use a bucket trowel!) you will now flatten the balls into burger patties. As a little tip, I make sure that I either lightly oil my ‘smasher’ or apply a little greaseproof paper to the top of the burger before you attempt to smash them. You need to work fast once the meat is on the grill and you don’t want any accidents where the burger lifts away from the grill as you try to move on to the next one.
Push down on the first meatball as firmly as you can with your smasher to ensure that the burger is, well, smashed. Be quick as the other burger balls are already cooking. By the time you have finished the last of four, you’ll be almost ready to flip the first one.
After around 30 seconds or so, you can now get your spatula (or equivalent) and start to turn the smash burgers. If you’re on a plancha, get the spatula pointed into the grill plate to ensure that you don’t lose any of the wonderful caramelisation when you’re lifting it up. You can give it a quick press once flipped, but it won’t need much.
Once all 4 smash burgers are flipped, if you are looking to add cheese, now is the time. Place a slice of American cheese (or your choice) on each patty. Nudge all four burgers so that they are either closer together, or further apart – depending on the size of your cloche/lid. Ideally, all of the burgers will fit under the same lid. Take your beer (or water) and pour a little bit onto the grill in the centre of the burgers. Now pop your cloche over the top!
Now is a good time to toast your burger buns if you plan to do so. They won’t take very long. Keep an eye on them as there are only a few seconds between toasted, and burnt. Make sure that everyone is ready, smash burgers are imminent.
Time to load up your burger! Remove the now lightly toasted buns from the grill and place them on your plate. If you’re having a double smash burger, load them on top of each other on the plancha. You can also now add any toppings that you may have on the hot plate. Carefully transport your loaded burger over to the base of your bun. Now, a contentious issue has arisen. Many will say that there should be some salad in the burger. I would say that lettuce adds no flavour and clearly, I’m not here for a health kick. No salad touches my burger!
If you are adding any sauce, now is the time, before placing your bun lid atop your smash burger extravaganza. Take a second to marvel at this mountain of meat and cheese, but not too long.