Cheddar Parmesan Mini Smash Burgers

I turned away from burgers during that ugly period in culinary history when bigger was better. The ingredients took second to size so chef’s could showcase a burger the size of a Volkswagen and frankly they kind of tasted like one. Smaller is better. It is all about each ingredient that you use. Ketchup? No way, why not a Sriracha sauce. The beef? From the butcher, 80:20 blend. Grill? Please no, sear it on a griddle and capture all the flavors and all the juices, also known as grease.

Sunday nights suppers are always “low-key” but we decided to do an impromptu birthday party for Anna which meant pulling together a quick dinner for 15 people. For the main course I made a Greek salad and topped with grilled skewered local shrimp that were marinated in a mustard herb parmesan sauce. That’s a tasty meal but there would be about 90 minutes of cocktails so I wanted a hearty bite of food to greet guests with. Mini Burgers!

These are not small burgers but really really small burgers. I use potato buns that are about 1 inch square, almost bite size. One or two per guest is a perfect pre-dinner bite. Now if you click around this site you will see many variations of burgers and toppings. Many of our inventions are driven by what is in the refrigerator at preparation time but have one consistent theme…the better the ingredients, the better the food.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of ground chuck, 80:20 from your butcher
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 4 ounces of extra sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup top quality mayonnaise
  • 4 or so dashes of Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon of cognac or brandy
  • 1 tablespoon of chives, finely chopped
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Red onion, peeled, cut in have then thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1 package of 24 of the smallest potato rolls made (Martin’s which is sold in most regular supermarkets in the bread aisle–watch the bagboys at the register, they are prone to crush them)
  • Dill pickle chips
  • 2/3 pound of bacon, thickly cut from your butcher

Wow, look at all of those ingredients for a mere mini burger. Is that too much work for a burger? No. The better the ingredients and how you bring the flavors together leads to deliciousness. The little bit of extra time and effort is worth it. If you step back and think about putting this all together you will see it’s really easy and most of it can be done far in advance. Not only is it easy but your guests will go wild over how spectacular your burgers taste.

Making It

  • Turn your oven to 400 degrees, line a half baking sheet with tinfoil, place the bacon on top and roast for 20 minutes on the middle rack. You want the bacon to be crisp, drain on paper towels and cut each piece into thirds
  • In a large bowl toss in the meat, red pepper flakes, cheeses, salt and pepper, Use a fork and lightly mix it all together and then roll into 1 inch round “meatballs,” then refrigerate until time to cook
  • In a smaller bowl gently whisk the mayonnaise, Sriracha, brandy/cognac and chives, cover with plastic, refrigerate until its time to build the burger
  • Turn your grill onto medium-high and put a Lodge double burner griddle on top and shut the lid. (If you do not have one then just use a regular griddle/cast iron pan–but it’s a lot more work.). Let the griddle heat up for 10 minutes.
  • Grill the rolls on the open part of the grill or just dry on the griddle until golden brown, put on the serving dish ready to build the burgers on top
  • Place the “meatballs” on the griddle and quickly smash them down with your spatula. Now, most spatulas are poorly made, so I use a pair of tongs to push down on top of it to flatten the meat into 1/2 in patties. Immediately take 3-4 red onion half moon slices and push into the burger as it cooke. Flip after 1 minute and then criss cross two of the mini bacon strips on top. Let cook for 2ish minutes depending on how you like your burgers prepared
  • Put lettuce on the bottom of each bun, at the burger with the bacon (and onion on the bottom,) a good hit of the Sriracha sauce and top it with the bun, add a pickle to the top of the bun and hold it all together with a bamboo toothpick

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