The “smash burger” is not a new idea, but interest in this minimalist and irresistible variation of the burger is growing. As outdoor grilling season begins, the press visited Simon of the East, master of the burst Montrealer to reveal all his secrets (or almost).
Since opening in 2021 in the Tétraultville district, urban canteen Chez Simon has quickly established itself as one of the best places on the island, and beyond, to sink your teeth into a burger. The proof: During the last Burger Week, his creation of the moment was voted best in Montreal, and second in Canada.
Its founder, Simon Jodoin-Bouchard, known as Simon de l’Est, is far from a neophyte when it comes to barbecues. He has won numerous awards in American contests, founded SJB BBQ, where he offers his creations of “rubs” and sauces, and co-authored the book. Barbecue for dummies.
For some time now, it is the hamburger that fascinates him, and which brings him many customers. Simon also created the Burger Québec Facebook page, which has more than 10,000 members. It is also the subject of his new book, published by Éditions de l’Homme, simply titled hamburger.
The book means a lot to me. I am curious in the kitchen, I like cooking curry, going to eat in Latin American cuisine. So explore many kinds of flavors, from Tex-Mex to tandoori. It’s 100% my image.
Eastern Simon, author of hamburger
In this book he explains how his obsession with the hamburger was born, the history of this dish inseparable from American culture, and presents many recipes – hamburgers, of course, with all the sauces, but also sandwiches, sauces and condiments – . Among them, his famous smash burger, one of the most popular dishes in his canteen.
The antithesis of the giddy burger
But what exactly is a hamburger and why do people love it?
First, forget about the decadent burger with thick meatballs and multiple layers of toppings. The smash burger is in a way the antithesis: simple and minimalist, no frills.
“The smash burger really brought me back to the classic burger, to the basics, with good old American cheese, not a million toppings, all the flavors you need. I often eat burgers, but I always come back to this recipe” , explains who heralds the return of classic cantinas to Quebec’s culinary landscape.
To make a hamburger according to the rules of the art, two tools are essential: a griddle and a hamburger (or bacon) press.
“I bought a little 17-inch propane grill that I put on my balcony. That’s kind of where the love for smashed burgers started. Plus, you can really use it for a lot of other things: breakfasts, stir-fries…”, lists Simon.
Why the iron? Because it is possible to manually adjust the ideal temperature in order to obtain the famous caramelization and crunch that any self-respecting hamburger ball should have. “A cast iron pan can work, but the caramelization will never be the same as with a griddle,” remarks the cook.
Because this is where the art of the smash burger lies : get a Maillard reaction by placing a ball of cold ground beef on the hot plate, which is quickly crushed with a hamburger press into a fine paste, simply seasoned with salt and pepper. Cooking is very fast: two or three minutes at most. Let the meat caramelize well, then turn it over when it’s almost done. This way you make sure you have the desired texture: crispy on the outside, but still juicy on the inside.
Then, it only takes a few well-chosen elements to get a burger that takes you back to your childhood: a slice of American cheddar cheese, which is melted on the flipped patty, caramelized onions, sweet pickles and a potato bun. , on the soft side. To his classic burger served at his restaurant, Simon also adds a slice of capicollo (which replaces the bacon) and his famous homemade barbecue sauce.
Editions de l’Homme
Eastern Simon’s Smash Burger
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 2 to 3 minutes
Yield: 4 hamburgers
1 yellow onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 lb (454 g) medium lean ground beef (ask your butcher for an 80% to 20% meat to fat ratio)
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 slices of American cheddar
4 potato buns (see note)
4 slices of capicollo
4 slices of sweet pickles
4 to 6 tablespoons. burger sauce (SJB BBQ sauce or your favorite brand)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cut the onion into very thin slices.
2. In a hot pan or on the griddle, melt the butter and caramelize the onion slices. To book.
3. Preheat the cooking surface (iron or pan) to about 260 ohC (500 ohF).
4. Divide the meat into 4 equal-sized meatballs, about the size of a golf ball.
5. When the surface is hot, oil it with canola oil and put the 4 meatballs on it. “Smash” 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 empanadas and put the cheese slices on them. Quickly flip the capicollo slices, if desired.
7. Grill the buns and assemble the hamburgers in this way: bottom bun, meat filling, capicollo, 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 can be found in Mayrand. The POM brand also markets a potato burger bun during the summer season.