Cheddar-and-Onion Smashed Burgers

At Adam Fleischman's expanding Los Angeles chain, the secret to his burgers is "umami dust," a combination of bonito (dried tuna) flakes, dried kombu (seaweed) and shiitake mushrooms with a pronounced savory Asian flavor. It makes a juicy burger taste even more deeply meaty.

Tip: Burger purists handle ground meat as little as possible; over-working the beef can create a tight, meatloaf texture.

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: Makes 4 burgers
KEY: Barbecue/Cookout, Father's Day, Game Day, American, Burgers, Fast, Staff Favorites, Dinner

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Ingredients

  • 16 thin bread-and-butter pickle slices, patted dry
  • Four 4-inch potato buns, buttered and toasted
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef chuck (30 percent fat)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 small onions, sliced paper thin
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
  • Umami dust, for sprinkling (optional, see Note)

How to make this recipe

  1. Heat a cast-iron griddle until very hot. Layer the pickle slices on the bottom buns.
  2. Without overworking the meat, loosely form it into 4 balls and place them on the griddle. Cook the meatballs over moderately high heat for 30 seconds. Using a sturdy large spatula, flatten each ball into a 5-inch round patty. Season the patties with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, until well seared. Press a handful of sliced onions onto each patty. Using the spatula, carefully flip each burger so the onions are on the bottom. Top with the cheese and cook for 2 minutes. Cover with a roasting pan and cook just until the cheese is melted, 1 minute more. Transfer the burgers with the onions to the buns and sprinkle with umami dust. Top with the buns and serve.

Notes

Umami Dust Use a spice grinder to pulse 3 tablespoons bonito flakes, 1/2 ounce crumbled dried kombu, and 1/2 ounce dried shitake mushrooms into a powder. Keep in a sealed jar at room temperature for up to 2 months. Makes 2 1/2 ounces.

Suggested Pairing

Beer Hoppy pale ale: Dale's Pale Ale.

Wine Juicy, peppery California Zinfandel.

Contributed By Photo © Marcus Nilsson Published June 2011

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