Ina Garten has come up with multiple different burger recipes during her decades-long career.
Ahead of Labor Day weekend, I decided to give one of her burger recipes a try. The recipe for smashed hamburgers with caramelized onions called to me because of its simplicity — a number of the ingredients I needed were already in my pantry. Plus, unlike other burger recipes, I didn’t need a grill.
I recently moved into a new apartment, meaning my cooking utensils and pantry staples were severely lacking. However, I had most of the things I needed to start cooking — a testament to Ina Garten’s flair for simple, yet delicious, recipes.
The first step in the recipe is preparing the caramelized onions.
The recipe calls for two medium red onions, thinly sliced.
All in all, this recipe only requires a few basic ingredients. You can find the full ingredient list and recipe instructions on her website here.
I added 2 tablespoons of canola oil into a large nonstick pan over medium heat and then added the onions.
Garten says it should take about eight to 10 minutes for the onions to start to brown. I liked that this recipe didn’t require a grill, making it apartment-friendly for this New Yorker on Labor Day weekend.
While the onions were browning, I began preparing the burgers themselves.
The recipe calls for a pound and a half of ground beef with 20% fat. I easily found this at my local grocery store for $US5.31 ($AU7), which I thought was an excellent deal considering I was able to feed four people with it.
To make the burgers, you season the meat with Colman’s mustard powder, black pepper, and kosher salt.
I had never used mustard powder in a recipe before but was excited to see if it would add more flavor to the burgers.
I mixed together the ground meat and seasonings in a glass mixing bowl.
I shaped the meat into four burger patties and placed them on a plate in the freezer, per Garten’s instructions.
The chef says the burgers should stay in the freezer for exactly 15 minutes, so I set a timer to make sure I wouldn’t go over or under the mark. I assumed this step was to help the burgers keep their shape when I added them to the cast-iron skillet.
After adding a teaspoon of sugar to the onions and letting them caramelize for a few minutes, I added a tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
Garten explains this step is to help deglaze the pan.
After less than a minute, my onions were lightly caramelized and ready to add to the burgers.
I took them off the heat while I waited for the burgers to be ready to add to the pan.
I heated up a couple of tablespoons of oil in my trusty cast-iron skillet and waited for the burgers to be done in the freezer.
While this recipe does call for two different pans, it doesn’t require many extra bowls or equipment, which I greatly appreciated when it was time to clean up.
I placed the burger patties down in the cast iron and made sure not to move them once they made contact.
Each burger patty should be about an inch thick. While all my burgers weren’t the exact same size, I figured I did a good enough job and was able to use every last bit of the meat mixture.
To put the “smash” in “smashburger,” I pressed down firmly on my burgers with a spatula.
This definitely would have worked a little better with a metal spatula, as Garten suggests using, but I made do with the one I had in my kitchen. In the end, the burgers turned out well.
After the burgers had cooked on one side for three minutes, becoming perfectly crispy, I flipped them over and added my toppings.
I grated some Gruyere cheese to top the burgers and added the caramelized onions on top. Then, I placed a lid on the skillet to allow the cheese to melt completely and finish cooking the burgers.
After about two minutes, my burgers were done.
Garten suggests using sandwich potato rolls, such as Martin’s, for the burgers, so I did just that.
When I cut into the burger, it was perfectly medium rare.
I’m admittedly not the best at telling when burgers are done to my liking, but Garten’s timing worked out perfectly.
The burger blew me away – it was juicy, flavorful, and the onions added the perfect amount of sweetness.
This recipe is great for grill masters and burger novices alike, as you only need a few ingredients to get a delicious burger. Even my roommates were surprised by how tasty these simple burgers turned out.
I’ll definitely be making these burgers again for an easy dinner or even a summer party with friends.