First, we tasted the unique sides: smashfries, thin "frites" tossed in olive oil and seasoned with garlic and rosemary; sweet potato fries that were light and delicious; and haystack onions with a remoulade dipping sauce that was not too spicy. Best side: the lightly seasoned and flash-fried veggie frites - a "workaround" to fries (only 110 calories) that allows you to save the calories for the milkshakes. More on that later...
On to the burgers. Oh, the burgers! We tried a quarter of a handful of menu items, and I'd recommend the BBQ, Bacon & Cheddar, Avocado Club, and straight up Classic Smashburger - all fantastic on an egg bun (gluten free and multi-grain buns available too!)
Smashburger founder Tom Ryan joined us to tell us about his vision for making a better burger. A food scientist with 20 years of experience in product development and marketing (heard of the McGriddle?), Ryan extolled the virtues of localizing the menus - wherever you enjoy a Smashburger - to accommodate local palates. Did you know that Smashburger chooses its BBQ sauce for its popular BBQ, Bacon & Cheddar burger very carefully to match local flavor preferences for BBQ (Texas, the Carolinas, and Kansas City restaurants all choose different BBQ sauces to make customers happy.) Here in New England, they asked locals what kind of ingredients they would like to see on a local burger. Lobster and baked beans were suggested, but the winner turned out to be a delicious "New Englander" burger with Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, grilled unions, cranberry stilton, and of course, the carefully crafted Smashburger on a buttery egg bun. Not to be outdone, the gorgeous salads (huge size), lighter Classic Grilled Chicken pounded Italian piccata style and handmade (not Boca) Black Bean Burger were also terrific healthy choices, all made to order.
And then we were invited into the kitchen to create our very own Smashburger and see how the process works behind the scenes. I learned quite a bit about burgers, and am eager to share some secrets to creating a better burger:
1. Start with the best beef grade you can. Smashburger only uses Certified Angus Beef from grass-fed stock who are "finished" with corn to bulk up the fat content towards the... um... end.
2. The cut matters, as does the WAY the beef is prepared for burgers. No squishing the beef through tiny holes to create squashed patties, Smashburger's beef is sent to each restaurant fresh cut and cubes with knives right off the chuck, not forced through a machine.
3. I'll never make my own beef patties the same again. Do NOT squish your beef into tight meatballs, then press... we learned from the master to create lightly packed balls with air pockets in the beef. Then the process is:
A. Butter the grill, and place the beef patty ball on the grill with parchment paper over it to retain the juices
B. SMASH the patty down for ten seconds with a press - don't let up, press hard - to sear in those juices on one side and cook it straight through. Smashburgers do not come in rare/medium/medium well - just one way: juicy and tender, but no pink.
C. Remove the parchment paper and press, and we saw bubbles (like a pancake) of juices retained in the burger - yum! SEASON with all-natural ingredients (Smashburger's mix is a secret), then...
D. Carefully flip the patty, now seared on one side, locking in the juices. In just a few minutes, voila! Smash, sear and season!
|Avocado Club - Tasting Portion|
Don't have a Smashburger near you? I encountered my first one in the Newark airport - maybe you can visit one while you travel this holiday season... visit smashburger.com to find a location near you...or if one is planning on opening soon!