I’ve been messing around with smash burgers for a while now, and while they’re tasty, they’re not very healthy. A good smash burger needs to be made with fatty meat, slathered in a delicious sauce, and layered with delicious, rubbery American cheese. If that sounds good (because it is) check out my previous posts for Smash Burgers, and Sauce, but I’ll fully admit that smash burgers are not very good for you.
While visiting family a little while ago, I was asked if I had ever used one of those new fancy meat alternatives (like Impossible or Beyond) to make a smash burger, as the person making the query has become a vegetarian. In fact, I had, and they turned out to be pretty good. As with most meat alternatives (I used Impossible “meat”) there’s certainly a difference. In this case the patties crisp up quickly and have a slightly nutty flavor – a bit like roasted chickpeas – but it’s a pretty tasty burger in it’s own right. The best part is that the procedure and ingredients list is nearly identical, and the ingredients in the sauce and the cheese could easily be subbed out for veggie-based alternatives if you’re looking for a vegan experience.
Side note: Keep in mind that meat alternatives like Impossible and Beyond are still highly processed, and not exactly a “healthy” alternative. These foods tend to be high in sodium, fat content (though not animal fat) and are calorically comparable to regular burger patties. Of course, when you bit into an impossible patty you get to do so knowing there’s no cholesterol in it, and that you’re not eating the ground-up muscle and fat of a cute little moo cow.
Stuff you’ll need (same list as in my regular post):
- The ingredients below (obviously)
- A pan or griddle that you can get VERY hot (I’d recommend something cast iron)
- Here’s the one I use – This Lodge Griddle
- A good spatula (make sure it’s metal if you’re using a cast iron pan)
- I use this spatula
- Something to smash with (you can use the spatula, but it tends to get HOT)
- There are special tools you can get (like a grill press) but a sauce pan will do the trick
- HINT: I cover the bottom of my sauce pan in aluminum foil (one less thing to clean)
- Impossible burger meat (they come in 12 oz packs)– divided into 4 equal pieces
- salt and pepper
- American cheese or vegan cheese alternative
- Shredded lettuce
- My smash burger fancy sauce – use a vegan mayo to avoid the animal products in regular mayo
How to do it:
- Choose your heat source, and set your cooking surface over high heat. Let it get – like I said before – SCREAMING hot
- Divide the ‘meat’ and make little 3 oz balls and season them with a sprinkle of salt and pepper
- When the pan or griddle is hot – remember; HOT – it’s time to cook. Since you’re not working with real meat, I’d recommend a quick blast of cooking spray on the pan before the burgers go on.
- Drop the balls of burger onto the hot surface, if they’re pre-seasoned, then it’s time to smash.
- Smash the burgers into the grill with your smasher of choice. Press down hard and get them nice and flat. Note that the smash-surface (be it a spatula, pan or other tool) will tend to stick to the ‘meat’ when you press down, that’s especially true of the Impossible burger that I used. That means if you try to pick it straight up, the burger will stick to the surface, and tear your burger apart. That’s why you have to practice the ‘smash and slide’: smush the burger down, and then gently slide off to the side.
- Cook the smashed patties for 2 minutes on the first side. Then scrape them off the grill with your sharp spatula. I do mean scrape, the hot griddle and the patty should produce a nice, crispy caramelization, which means that your burger is going to stick.
- Give your flipped patties a little smash to make sure as many parts of the patty are in contact with the hot griddle as possible, then add your cheese (or vegan alternative).
- Cook them on side 2 for two minutes, and then remove them from the cooking surface.
- Build your burger with your preferred toppings: bun, fancy sauce, shredded lettuce, etc.
- Revel in the deliciousness.