Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Smashing Burgers!

When I was a kid, I would love it when my mom would take me to Hamlin Pharmacy and Fountain in Corpus Christi, Texas. The thought of a pharmacy, a gift shop, and a soda fountain all-in-one made me giddy! Not only could you enjoy old-timey lunch counter cuisine, cooked right in front of you on a griddle, you could wash it down with a milkshake and buy yourself something new before you left! Great fun when you're a kid! While soda fountains and lunch counters are relics of a bygone era, I have always had an affinity for the greasy cuisine. In fact, this lead me to create a fantastic burger, not cooked on a grill, but on the stove, just like they did in the old days!

When my husband first saw me cook burgers this way, he shook his head and thought I was absolutely nuts. Why? Well, basically I ignored all the rules about how to cook a burger. I relied on my experience at Hamlin's, a vague memory of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin making burgers on TV, as well as what I observed in the plethora of diners that I frequented when I lived in the northeast. On first bite, my husband was shocked at how delicious and juicy the burgers were! Even today, I may suggest cooking burgers on my Weber grill, but am always met with resistance, "Make diner burgers!" (which they have become known), "You know they're always better!", and they always are.

The technique is really simple. In a large pan (see Gadgets for my favorite nonstick pan), melt a pat of butter topped with thinly sliced onions for each burger, shape the ground beef into individual balls, season generously with salt and pepper, and using a spatula, smash each ball down on each butter/onion mound. Bobby Flay would freak! By smashing them, you get the jagged edges that create a nice crispy texture. Once they begin to brown on the edges, flip them and smash them again! This creates the perfect meat to bun ratio. Top each burger with two slices of good old American cheese and cover until the cheese is melted and the burgers are done to your liking. For those of you who judge my smashing technique, how do you explain the wildly popular Denver-based burger chain Smashburger, or the fact that Hamlin's is still thriving today? Why not try my "Ultimate Diner Burger with Bacon and Egg?" Although they are a cardiologists nightmare, they are fantastic! Try it and you'll never make burgers the same again! 
Ultimate Diner Burger with Bacon and Egg

Serves 4


1 lb ground chuck
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 thick slices bacon 
1/4 cup very thinly sliced onion
8 slices American cheese (yes, Kraft!)
4 eggs
4 good quality burger buns, toasted
Mayonnaise, for the buns


Divide the beef into four and shape into round balls. Set aside.

Cook the bacon over medium heat in a large pan, drain on paper towels. In the pan that you cooked the bacon, raise the heat to high and make four even mounds of the onions. Season the balls generously with salt and pepper. When the onions are starting to sizzle, using a spatula, smash each ball down on each onion mound.

Once the edges begin to brown, a few minutes, flip them over and smash them again. (A splatter guard is recommended to control the mess.) After a minute, reduce the heat to medium and top each burger with two slices of the cheese, cover the pan until the cheese is melted and the burgers are done to your liking, just a minute or two.

Set the burgers on a platter. In the pan with the grease, cook two eggs at a time until the whites are set and the yolks are still soft, just a few minutes. (Covering the pan helps to cook the whites faster.) Set aside while cooking the remaining two eggs.

To serve, place each burger on the toasted and mayonnaised buns, top with the bacon (break the bacon in half so they fit well), and top with a fried egg. Fabulous!

*You may also be interested in my Green Chili Cheeseburgers.


  1. Robin!
    I made these for the first time last night- and I was truly surprised at how good they were. The onions, beef, and (I used cheddar) cheese united to form a trifecta of savory goodness. They were the best burgers I've ever made- and the quickest. No need to wait for your Weber to get hot- and the skillet really keeps these guys moist.
    I will not be grilling my burgers any more on my Weber- it's smashed diner burgers from here on out.
    Thanks again- Dinner Night is the best!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for visiting my site!