No matter the meat of choice or the cooking method, burgers are an excellent weeknight meal. They cook quickly. They are infinitely customizable. And, it’s easy to make them kid-friendly.
The simplest, speediest way to a burger dinner? Smashed patties.
This style of burger cooks in less than 2 minutes, and requires absolutely no guesswork when it comes to doneness. What the patty lacks in medium-rare juiciness, it makes up for in a crisp, flavor-packed crust.
The method below borrows technique from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s recipe on Serious Eats, but it’s scaled up to a more family-friendly volume. (You can easily increase the number of burgers you’re churning out; simply allow 1/4 pound of beef per person, divided into two patties.) Before you turn on the stove, get all of the burger elements ready: pull out the cheese, slice the burger buns, and shred the lettuce. Instead of ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and pickles, grab a bottle of Thousand Island dressing. It already packs all of those flavors inside — and doesn’t crowd the table with condiments.
For the patties themselves, use 85% lean ground beef. If you can find ground chuck, use it. To develop a rich, deep crust, the burgers need to cook in a heavy, ungreased skillet in plenty of rendered fat. Divide the beef into 8 small balls while you heat the skillet over high heat. It needs at least 5 minutes to get ripping hot — don’t cut this time short.
You’ll cook the burgers in two batches. Take four of the beef balls and place them in the skillet, evenly spread apart. Use your widest, flattest spatula to smash each ball firmly into the skillet to form a small patty. Season with salt and then leave the burgers alone for about 1 minute. You’ll know they’re ready to flip when the meat appears to be nearly cooked through and its juices are bubbling through the patty. Scrape the spatula underneath the patties — make sure to pull up all of the browned bits — and flip. Top all of the patties with cheese, stack them to form a double patty, then transfer to a plate. Wipe the skillet out and repeat. I told you these burgers were quick.
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