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I am trying to cook hamburgers in a 12" pan on my stovetop. I am attempting to replicate some hamburgers I have had at a "local" place around here (read: 1.5 hours away), where the burgers are not well-formed patties but kind've jagged patties that get nice and crisp and also are relatively thin and spread out, cooked by the burgermeister on a large commercial griddle.

My question is, what temperature should I use for with this type of burger? My thought is that I will roll out 1/3 lb balls of 80/20, flatten out on the pan with a spatula, roughen up a little, then let cook until done. At some point, I'll add some cheese (monterey jack or muenster, no comments on the cheese!).

What I'd like is a bit of meaty flavor, greasy of course, but also crunchy to a degree (but not a lot). Should I pre-oil my pan?

Thanks! Jared

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Jared, you owe me a new keyboard. "Bürgermeister" is the German word for "mayor". I was briefly exposed to the mental image of some conservative Bavarian politician in a three piece wool suit flipping patties and telling pleasant lies to the customers in broken English. –  rumtscho Apr 2 '11 at 23:10
    
Same difference? No? –  Jared Farrish Apr 2 '11 at 23:12
    
To me, it doesn't matter (well, maybe I'll have to explain to the neighbour why she was woken by a seemingly unprovoked laugh burst from my flat). To a stiff CSU politician, it is a grave insult. –  rumtscho Apr 2 '11 at 23:30
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On a more burgery note, the temperature is not the only factor to consider when pursuing a specific texture. Read here for another important factor: aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2011/04/… –  rumtscho Apr 2 '11 at 23:31
    
Thanks rumtscho, I will owe you a keyboard and a friendly neighbor. :) I am reading your link right now. –  Jared Farrish Apr 2 '11 at 23:50
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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The way to make a proper griddled hamburger:

Start with beef that is between 70/30 and 80/20. You need to use a fatty beef because you are going to be doing a few things that will restrict the amount of juice in the burger and the extra fat will mitigate that.

Season your beef and roll into balls less than 1/4 of a pound. Let the size of your patties be determined by the size of your pan, you need them small enough that once you smash you won't be touching the sides of the pan.

You then want to preheat your pan. You want your pan to be as hot as possible. A commercial griddle can range in heat between 375 F and 650 F, so the temp here can vary quite a bit between places, I find hotter aids crust formation and allows the interior stay closer to medium.

Do not use oil. I can't stress that enough. Your beef will put out plenty and oil will fry the burger instead of allowing a seared crust to develop.

Place your balls of meat on the pan and smash them flat with a spatula. You might need a second spatula to remove the patty from the smashing one, as you lack the space space to heat it like you would on a griddle to prevent sticking. Allow it to cook about two to three minutes, then flip and top with cheese, if desired. Two more minutes and remove.

As an added bonus, you can toast/fry some bread in the beef juices to create a patty melt style burger that will be oozing beefy goodness. You can drop the bread in right after the flip and it will be perfect by the time the patty is done.

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For a thin patty, I'd go for a fairly high temp. Medium-high. You need a three step approach. 1. Make sure the pan is hot by shaking a drop of water in the pan. If it evaporates immediately then it's hot. 2. Put some oil in the pan (just coat the bottom). 3. Make sure the oil is hot. When you swirl the pan around and the oil shows ripples, it's hot. Then add the burgers.

The oil is needed for heat transfer.

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It's a generic electric stovetop. Hot as it gets, or just hot enough to instantly boil water? Also, by coat the bottom, do you mean hot or cold? I have peanut oil. –  Jared Farrish Apr 2 '11 at 22:54
    
If you are going to use a pan that hot, make sure you use a high smoke point oil like peanut oil. –  michael Apr 2 '11 at 22:59
    
Your comment came up just after I finished mine :) Peanut oil is excellent. Add the oil after the pan is hot. –  michael Apr 2 '11 at 23:01
    
How much? And how often? I have eight burgers. –  Jared Farrish Apr 2 '11 at 23:05
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I prefer to go with Heston Blumenthal's method. Very low heat, thick (say, 2.5-4cm) burgers, and flip every thirty seconds or so. This allows your burgers to baste in their own juices, and slowly develop a gorgeous crust on the outside. I promise you, try this way, and they will be the juiciest burgers you will ever have.

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