Joe Isidori is chef-owner of NYC burger haven Black Tap and author of a new cookbook packed with its recipes. The burgers are delicious, inventive and served “deluxe,” and the milkshakes are the skyscrapers of the dessert game, loaded with every other dessert imaginable. Slip behind the burger scenes and learn one of Isidori’s most important decrees: Only flip burgers once during cooking.
Reprinted with permission from Craft Burgers and Crazy Shakes From Black Tap
When mixing and forming your burgers, handle the meat as minimally as possible to ensure a juicy, tender burger. When you divide the meat for patties, aim for something between a gut-busting monster burger and a super-thin burger: 6 to 8 ounces of beef is right for a classic diner patty. If you’re using gamier meats, like bison or lamb, stay on the smaller side. Using a ring mold or very large biscuit cutter to shape the patties will keep your burgers a consistent size, but it’s not a big deal if you don’t have one; just pat the meat lightly into a patty with your open palms. Either way, don’t pound it or roll it. When the meat is packed tightly, it takes longer to cook and will make a tougher burger. You’re not making meatballs. Season the patties with kosher salt and cracked black pepper and leave them alone.
At Black Tap, the burgers are griddled, not grilled. At home, your best option is a cast-iron skillet or flat-top griddle, the older and more well seasoned, the better. Cast-iron retains heat like nothing else. Slick your cast-iron pan with just a touch of a neutral cooking oil and get it very hot before you add the patties. This is how you will create a nice crust on the burger and a juicy, soft interior. When the oil is shimmering, you can put the burger on. Don’t flip or touch it except once to switch sides once it hits the pan. It will probably take three to four minutes on each side to reach a “chef’s medium,” which will give you a crusty brown sear with a pink juicy center. You will have a succulent burger that feels light and juicy in your mouth, because you didn’t overwork or overcook the meat.
Note: Be sure to pour out most of the fat in the pan before you add the buns to toast them.