Cooking short-order hamburgers -- need advice

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gschwim
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2005/01/03 17:05:25 (permalink)

Cooking short-order hamburgers -- need advice

I am trying to make "little hamburgers" the way they make them at the short-order place (Greene's Hamburgers) that I grew up with in Detroit. I rarely see them made this way, but it's my favorite and seems simple -- yet, I have a small problem.

The way they make them is, they take a small, pre-made ball (I use 2 oz.) of hamburger, smoosh it down on the grill with a spatula, drop a large mound of shredded (not diced) onions on top and smoosh those into the patty. They let the patty grill for a bit, then flip it over and put the bottom of a bun on top and the top of the bun on top of that. When the second side is cooked, they lift the patty with a spatula, put the top of the bun underneath, pull the spatula out, turn the hamburger right-side-up and voila! I remember the whole process taking maybe 2-3 minutes.

My problem is, when I flip the patty over so the second side can cook, I keep burning the onions. Of course, I can use a lower cooking temperature, but then the burgers take longer to cook. I guess there is some perfect temperature for cooking the burgers quickly without burning the onions? Any short-order cooks -- professional or amateur -- out there who can tell me the secret? Thanks!
#1

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    ZekeTheCat
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    RE: Cooking short-order hamburgers -- need advice 2005/01/04 09:41:07 (permalink)
    gschwim - I've been replicating small mini burgers just like the ones you describe although I get them up at Powers Hamburgers in Ft. Wayne Indiana - they're made exactly the way as you describe. I cook mine on medium heat range - probably a minute and a half give or take each side, and don't have problems with burning. I use a mandolin slicer with a homemade shim plate in it to get the real paper thin slices of onion and then cut once from the center out to form the strands. I use a "golf ball" size ball (sqaushed out to about 3/16" thickness) of 80% lean ground beef and small dinner rolls for the bun and a squirt of mustard and ketchup to finish it off. At Powers at least, when they turn the sqaushed patty/onions over, they flip them right into the fat that came from the initial frying of the burger. Hope this helps (I'm also trying to replicate White Castles - unsuccessfully so far !)
    #2
    gschwim
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    RE: Cooking short-order hamburgers -- need advice 2005/01/04 10:18:40 (permalink)
    Thanks, Zeke,

    I'll lower the heat and, I think, watch the burgers carefully, hoping to take them off the grill at the exact moment the burgers are done, but before the onions can burn.

    Now here are a couple of suggestions for making your mini-burgers even better:

    1. For slicing the onions, order, from Williams-Sonoma, a Kyocera ceramic slicer -- the yellow one (the green one is for juliennes): http://ww1.williams-sonoma.com/cat/pip.cfm?pkey=xsrd0m1%7C15%7C0%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7Cceramic&gids=cw150&cmsrc=sch

    They're fantastic. Within seconds, you can turn one onion into a mountain of paper-thin onions. By the way, I use sweet onions, such as Vadalia or its equivalent.

    2. For buns, you want Martin's Potato Rolls: http://www.mfps.com/products.html

    The ones I am talking about are on the upper-right on the Web page. They taste much better than ordinary buns and, as you can perhaps see in the photo, they are available in a 12-pack of mini-buns -- the perfect size and shape for mini-burgers. Hopefully, they are in your local market; otherwise, you probably can contact them via the Web site and ask them for a location in your area.

    And, if you like hot dogs, too, then try Martin's Long Potato Rolls (second row, middle photo). Once you do, you'll never be satisfied with ordinary hot dog buns again.
    #3
    UncleVic
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    RE: Cooking short-order hamburgers -- need advice 2005/01/04 11:09:32 (permalink)
    Just a guess here, but your burgers may need a bit more fat content to keep them onions "greased" while cooking... Also maybe try patting your burgers thinner so they cook quicker (extra fat will make them shrink down). Just a guess... Also, I used to keep my grill at 350 degrees during peak hours, 325 during slow times...

    #4
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Cooking short-order hamburgers -- need advice 2005/01/04 11:30:42 (permalink)
    Someone posted some time ago the secrets of all the foods that you enjoy the most. Another posted that he had worked at either the krystal or WC? I forgot which and he indicated that they used reconstituted dried onions. I cannot tell you why but it sorta makes sense. I know they have never tasted like fresh onions and had a peculiar but interesting taste. It was a web site and he gave all the secrets of making their small burgers. There was more to it than what you would think

    Paul E. smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #5
    gschwim
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    RE: Cooking short-order hamburgers -- need advice 2005/01/04 11:45:09 (permalink)
    Thanks, everyone. You have helped me to solve the problem. The "trick" is to use a cast iron pan, set the temperature (I have a gas stove) LOW and let give the pan a minute or two to heat up before putting the burger on. The cast iron, apparently, is a very good heat absorber and radiator, so a low flame is all you need.
    #6
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