Shake Shack divulges burger secrets in its new cookbook


Shake Shack, the popular, fast-growing burger chain, has just released a cookbook, and, yes, it includes directions for preparing its signature burger. 

Well, sort of. 

In “Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories” (Clarkson Potter, $26), authors Randy Garutti and Mark Rosati (the company’s CEO and culinary director, respectively), in collaboration with James Beard award-winning editor Dorothy Kalins, offer a reasonable home-cook facsimile of the famous ShackBurger, along with nearly 70 recipes that approximate Shake Shack classics, including crinkle fries, corn dogs, the Chick’n Shack sandwich and frozen custard shakes. 

The “stories” side of the book tells tales of Shake Shack history, profiles key collaborators and suppliers, discusses methodologies, provides recipe-related commentary and illuminates the company’s key-to-success business practices. Anyone with an interest in all-American fare will find it helpful and readable. 

“My favorite burger is a plain cheeseburger,” writes Rosati. “I wish it were more complicated, but it’s not. If the meat is fresh (say ‘No’ to that convenient packaged pre-ground meat, and just once, have whole muscles ground for you; I promise, you’ll taste the difference), well seasoned (simply, with salt and freshly ground pepper), properly cooked with a nice salty crust (a quick sear on a hot, flat surface to lock in the juices, but not cooked so long those juices dry up), the cheese is melted and creamy, and it’s cradled by a bun that’s nicely toasted yet still soft and pillowy on the outside, I don’t ask for anything more. That is the most perfect burger bite of my life: when the interior juices of the burger meet the creaminess of the cheese, comingle, and create a natural sauce. If you understand the basics, you can have that experience, too. It’s the most primal, simple, and pleasurable expression of what a great burger is all about.” 

When it comes to preparing the burger, here are a few notes: Shake Shack prefers potato rolls from Martin’s in Chambersburg, Penn. Unfortunately, the mega-bakery doesn’t supply Twin Cities metro area supermarkets with its milk- and potato-enriched buns. (Conveniently, Lunds & Byerly’s bakes their own version; a dozen runs about $10). 

The Shake Shack’s exact beef formula — created by butcher Pat LaFrieda — isn’t revealed, but the book does outline that the formula follows a mix of brisket, chuck and short rib (the percentages aren’t mentioned). The beef is fresh, not frozen, and it’s all-natural Angus, raised without hormones or antibiotics. 

For home cooks with a meat grinder (or a friendly butcher), here’s the recommendation: cut the meat into small pieces, and chill the beef; do not bring it to room temperature. On the first grind, use the coarse plate, and on the second grind, rely upon a finer plate. 

When it comes to toasting the buns, “We say a well toasted bun should look like perfectly cooked French toast,” writes the authors. They prefer Roma tomatoes because “they are firm enough to hold their shape and color and add a sweet note to balance the salty crust of the burger,” they write. 

And why American cheese? “It is quite simply the creamiest, meltingest cheese there is, bringing its special tang to a cheeseburger,” writes the authors. “Buy it sliced; it’s easier to drape on a hot burger.” 

Here’s the recipe. 

——— 

THE SHACKBURGER 

Serves 4. 

Note: “Like most deceptively simple things, it took us years to get it right, but now you can master burger perfection in five minutes,” write authors Randy Garutti and Mark Rosati in “Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories.” 

4 hamburger potato buns 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 

4 tablespoons ShackSauce [see Recipe] 

4 pieces green leaf lettuce 

8 1/2-inch slices ripe plum tomato 

1 pound very cold ground beef, divided into 4 pucks 

1/2 teaspoon Our Salt & Pepper Mix [see Recipe] 

4 slices American cheese 

Directions: Heat a cast-iron griddle over medium-low heat until warm. Meanwhile, open the hamburger buns and brush the insides with melted butter (a soft brush is helpful here). Place the buns, buttered-side down, on the griddle and toast until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer buns to a plate. Spoon the ShackSauce [see Recipe, below] onto the top bun. Add a piece of the lettuce and 2 slices of the tomato. 

Increase the heat to medium and heat the griddle until hot, 2 to 3 minutes. 

Evenly sprinkle a pinch of Our Salt & Pepper Mix [see Recipe, below] on top of each puck of meat. 

Place the pucks on the griddle, seasoned-side down. Using a large, sturdy metal spatula, firmly smash each puck into a 1/3-inch thick round patty. (Pressing down on the spatula with another stiff spatula helps flatten the burger quickly). Evenly sprinkle another big pinch of Our Salt & Pepper Mix. 

Cook the burgers, resisting the urge to move them, until the edges beneath are brown and crisp, and juices on the surface are bubbling hot, about 2 1/2 minutes. Slide one of the spatulas beneath the burger to release it from the griddle and scrape up the caramelized brown crust. Use the other spatula to steady the burger and keep it from sliding. Flip the burgers. Put the cheese on top and cook the burgers for 1 minute longer for medium. Cook more or less, depending upon your preference. 

Transfer cheeseburgers to prepared buns and enjoy. 

SHACKSAUCE 

Makes about 1/2 cup. 

Note: From “Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories.” “We’re surely not going to publish THE formula for our secret sauce,” write the authors. “But this recipe comes pretty darn close with home ingredients. It’s our homage to everything sweet, salty, sour and smoky that’s ever been put on top of a burger.” 

1/2 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise 

1 tablespoons Dijon mustard 

3/4 teaspoon Heinz ketchup 

1/4 teaspoon kosher dill pickling brine 

Pinch of cayenne pepper 

Directions: In a small mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, pickling brine and cayenne pepper and stir until well combined. Sauce will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

OUR SALT & PEPPER MIX 

Makes about 1/2 cup. 

Note: From “Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories.” 

1/2 cup kosher salt 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 

Directions: In a small bowl, combine salt and pepper. “Use the mixture to season our burgers as they cook,” write authors Randy Garutti and Mark Rosati. “You’ll see why we call for a pinch or two of the mixture in every recipe.”


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