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Dish of the Week: The Fake ShackBurger

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

With the first Houston Shake Shack location opening last Friday, we thought it’d be fun to share a recipe of how to make your own at home (at least until all the buzz dies down).

Hailing from NYC, Shake Shack is a cult favorite, a modern-day roadside burger stand that is known for using 100 percent all-natural Angus beef to craft the perfect, classic American cheeseburger. While the Galleria location offers that burger topped with awesomeness like a griddled Kreuz Market jalapeño cheese sausage link (a special that is available only in Texas), we’re sticking with the original ShackBurger here.

The secret is using simple, high-quality ingredients — Shake Shack uses a secret beef blend from butcher baron Pat LaFrieda, potato rolls from Martin's Famous Pastry Shoppe, plus its addicting housemade ShackSauce.

The meat gets rolled into four-ounce, two-inch-tall patties that kind of resemble tall hockey pucks, which are then smashed into submission on a hot griddle, caramelizing in their own fat as they cook. Though Shake Shack won’t give up the secret to its meat blend, it's confirmed an 80/20 meat-to-fat ratio is a good place to start. So is using the highest-quality, freshest ground beef possible.

The buns are toasted on the inside, getting a healthy slather of butter and taking a ride through a toaster shoot.

To finish, it’s a slice of American on top of the patty as it finishes cooking, and two thick slices of ripe tomato, curly lettuce and that aforementioned ShackSauce — a kinda-secret mix of mayo, ketchup, mustard, spicy pickle juice, smoked paprika, and garlic and onion powder—on the bun.

This recipe, as seen on SmittenKitchen.com, uses a blend of freshly ground sirloin and brisket with an 80/20 fat ratio. Feel free to add pickles as desired.

Fake ShackBurger

Ingredients
1 pound freshly ground beef with an 80/20 fat ratio (3/4 pound ground sirloin + 1/4 pound brisket is recommended, but if you can’t find, use chuck)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more if needed
4 potato rolls, preferably Martin’s brand
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices American cheese
4 1/4-inch-thick tomato slices
4 burger-sized pieces curly green-leaf lettuce
Thinly sliced pickles, if desired

For the sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons juice from a pickle jar
1 1/2 teaspoons ketchup
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Directions

Prepare the meat: Form the meat into four equal-size four-ounce meat “pucks,” roughly 2 1/2 inches thick. Place them on a plate lined with plastic wrap or waxed paper and freeze for 15 minutes, but no longer. The meat isn't meant to be frozen, just extra-cold when it hits the pan.

Make the sauce: Combine all of the ingredients, tasting it and making any adjustments you’d prefer. A dash of hot sauce, perhaps?

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Toast the buns: Heat a griddle, large cast-iron skillet (recommended) or large, heavy stainless-steel skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and place the buns, cut side down, in the pan. Cook until cut sides are golden-brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Place toasted buns on four plates.

Cook the burgers: Remove patties from freezer. Increase heat to high and add 2 tablespoons oil to the griddle or skillet — you’ll need this only for your first burger batch; after you’ve made a couple or if you’re scaling the recipe up, the fat from the earlier burgers will be sufficient. Heat until oil begins to smoke, at least two minutes. Working one at a time, add a patty to griddle and immediately flatten it to a 1/2-inch thickness with a heavy spatula and something with weight and heft (the handle of a second spatula, a meat pounder, etc.) to help it along. You’ll have to “hammer” harder than you might think to flatten the patties out. A second spatula can be used to help remove the hamburger stuck to the flattening one, so as not to tear the patty. Generously season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining patties.

Once the first side is deeply browned with crisp, craggly edges, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes for medium, use a spatula to scrape underneath the patty and flip it over. Cover with a slice of cheese and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, until melted. Repeat process with remaining patties.

Assemble burgers: Transfer cooked patties to toasted burger buns. Spread top buns with prepared sauce. Top burgers with tomatoes, lettuce and pickles (if using) and immediately dig in.

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