The “smash burger” isn’t a new concept, but interest in this minimal and irresistible variation of the hamburger is growing. As outdoor grilling season begins, Press The master of “Smash” visited Simon de l’Est Montrealer so that he reveals all his secrets (or almost).
Posted on May 25
Since its opening in 2021, in the Tétraultville district, Chez Simon Urban Canteen has quickly established itself as one of the best places on the island – and beyond – to sink your teeth into a burger. Proof: Last burger week, his creation of the moment was voted best in Montreal and second in Canada.
Its founder, Simon Jodoin-Bouchard, better known as Simon de l’Est, is far from a neophyte when it comes to barbecue. He has won numerous awards in American competitions, founded SJB BBQ, where he makes the “Robs” and sauces, and co-wrote the book BBQ for dummies.
For a while, it was the burger that fascinated him, and it brought him many customers. Simon also created the Berger Quebec Facebook page, which brings together more than 10,000 members. This is the subject of his new book, published by Editions de l’Homme, simply titled Burger.
The book really means a lot to me. I am curious in the kitchen, I like to cook curries, like to go out for Latin American food. So I explore a wide range of flavors from Tex-Mex to Tandoori. It is 100% my image.
Eastern Simon, author of Burger
In this book, he tells how his obsession with burgers was born, the history of this food inseparable from American culture, and presents many recipes – burgers, of course, with all the sauces, but also sandwiches, sauces and condiments. Among them, his famous Smash Burger, is one of the most popular dishes in his canteen.
The antithesis of the swirled burger
But what exactly is Burger Smash and why do people love it?
First, forget the decadent burger with thick meatballs and multiple layers of toppings. The Smash Burger is the antithesis in a way: simple and minimal, without the fla-fla.
“The Smash Burger really took me back to the classic burger, back to basics, with good old American cheese, not a million toppings, all the flavor you need. I often eat burgers, but I always come back to this recipe,” he explains, predicting the return of classic canteens to Quebec’s culinary landscape.
To smash a burger according to the rules of the art, two tools are essential: a griddle and a burger (or bacon) press.
“I bought myself a small 17-inch propane plancha that I put on my porch. This is kind of where the love of Smash Burger started for me. Furthermore, you can really use it to make many other things: breakfast, stir-fries…”, Simon calculates.
Why Plancha? Because it’s possible to manually adjust the ideal temperature to get that famous caramelization and crispiness that any self-respecting Smash Burger Ball needs. “A cast iron skillet might work, but the caramelization will never be the same as a plancha,” comments the cook.
Because therein lies the art of Smash Burger : Obtain a Maillard reaction by placing a ball of cold ground beef on a very hot plate, which is crushed into a thin patty with a burger press, seasoned only with salt and pepper. Cooking is very quick: two or three minutes at most. Allow the meat to caramelize well, then flip when almost cooked through. That way you make sure you have the texture you want: crispy on the outside, but still juicy on the inside.
Then, all you need to get a burger that takes you back to childhood is a few well-chosen ingredients: a slice of American cheddar cheese, which melts into the mature patty, caramelized onions, sweet pickles and a potato wedge. , for the softer side. In his classic burger smash served at his restaurant, Simon adds a slice of capicolo (a bacon substitute) and his famous homemade barbecue sauce.
Edition de l’Homme
Eastern Simon’s Smash Burger
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 2 to 3 minutes
Yield: 4 burgers
1 yellow onion
2 tbsp. butter
454 grams (1 pound) medium-lean ground beef (ask your butcher for an 80%-20% meat-to-fat ratio)
2 tbsp. canola oil
4 slices of American cheddar
4 potato skins (see note)
4 pieces of capicolo
4 pieces of sweet pickles
4 to 6 tbsp. Burger sauce (SJB BBQ sauce or your favorite brand)
Test for salt and pepper
1. Slice the onion very thinly.
2. In a hot skillet or griddle, melt the butter and caramelize the onion slices. Booked.
3. Preheat cooking surface (plancha or skillet) to about 260 Whoahc (500 Whoahf).
4. Divide the meat into 4 meatballs about the size of a golf ball.
5. Once the surface is hot, oil it with canola oil and place 4 meatballs on it. “Crush” each of them with a press for about 20 seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. As soon as the caramelization is satisfactory, turn the patties over and place the cheese slices on top. Quickly toast the capicolo slices if desired.
7. Grill the buns and assemble the burgers as follows: bottom bun, meat patty, capicolo, caramelized onions, sweet pickles, top bun brushed with sauce.
Note: Potato bread can be hard to find in supermarkets. Simon de l’Est uses the American brand Martin’s, which is available in Merande. The POM brand also markets a potato hamburger bun during the summer season.