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Quarter Pounder Diner Burger Recipe


Hamburger with cheese on a bun
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4.24 from 56 votes
Diner Burgers are small disks, 4 ounces or less, as opposed to big thick Steakhouse Steakburgers. I have named my version of the Diner Burger after J. Wellington Wimpy, a character in the Popeye cartoon series, who was addicted to burgers. This style of pressed burger has also become known as a smash burger.

Serve with: root beer.


Course:
Dinner
,
Lunch
,
Main Course
Cuisine:
American

Makes:

Servings: 4 quarter pounder burgers

Takes:

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes

Ingredients

The Burger

Mix-ins

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)

Cooking The Burger

  • 1 tablespoon beef fat, bacon fat, or vegetable oil

The Buns

  • 4 slices of American cheese
  • 4 thin slices of sweet onion
  • 4 leaves of crunchy lettuce
  • Meathead's burger glop
Notes:
About the salt. Remember, Morton coarse kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page

Method

  • Prep. Place the meat in a large mixing bowl. If you are grinding the meat yourself, use the smaller holes on your grinder, or grind the meat twice so that the burgers are compact and hold together well.
  • Mix in the mix-ins in a bowl using a fork or your hands. Pack the meat into a ball about 2-inches across. A #8 ice cream scoop is 2.75-inches and, when leveled, holds just about four ounces, a perfect quarter pounder. Use a scoop or a kitchen scale or a ruler until you can make the right size balls blindfolded. Then put them in the fridge for about 20 minutes before cooking so the center does not cook as quickly.
    Ground beed formed into balls
  • Fire up. Preheat a cast iron griddle or heavy frying pan to about at least 350°F, as hot as you can get it. We want it well above 300 to 310°F, the temp at which Maillard browning happens.
  • Cook. Add 1 teaspoon of butter per bun to the griddle. It will foam quickly, so spread it out evenly over the surface, place the buns, cut-side down into the butter, press them down with the spatula and put a dinner plate on top of them so they make good contact with the surface, and cook until the bread turns golden. Yes, the tops will be smushed, but the butter will brown and get a nutty taste, and the edges of the buns should be extra crispy. Then remove the buns and wipe the griddle with a paper towel.
    Grilled diner burger
  • Melt some beef fat, bacon fat, or pour some vegetable oil on the griddle. You want just a thin coat. Do not use butter. It has too much water in it. When it begins to smoke, add the burger balls, and press down with a solid spatula so there is good contact between the meat and the surface and so the edges are jagged. A slotted spatula will not do the job. You need to smash the burger soon after the patty goes on, and not again until you flip. We don't want to squeeze out hot juices. After smashing, quickly work the spatula or a spoon along the edges, pressing down so they are ragged, thin, and make good contact with the surface. We're going for brown edges here. Sprinkle the top side with salt. Leave the lid open and back away. Don't touch the burgers for about 3 minutes. Maybe 5 minutes, depending on how hot your pan gets. You want them in intimate contact with the surface. Also, you need two spatulas, one to smash the raw meat, and a clean one to flip and serve.
  • Now it will take you a couple of tries to know exactly when to flip, so at first you may have to peek. The bottoms should be dark brown. If they are, gently work a clean spatula under the burgers, pressing on the griddle to make sure you don't leave brown bits behind and that they don't break apart. I sharpen my spatula on a grinder to make sure the egdes don't leave brown bits behind. Flip the burgers and press them into into max contact with the surface but not so hard that you squeeze out vital fluids. Leave the juices in the meat. No need to salt if you salted the other side. If you are making a cheeseburger, place the cheese on now and close the lid on the grill. If you are working indoors, place a mixing bowl, pie pan, pot, or disposable aluminum pan over the burgers to speed the melting of the cheese. Check the color of the bottom after 2 minutes. Don't take them off until the surface is right, even if you fear the interior is overcooking. If you got 20 to 30% fat meat and you didn't cook too hot, they'll be juicy.
  • Serve. Once they are fully cooked, place each patty on a bun along with onion and lettuce, then dress with Meathead's burger glop before serving.