‘Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten Uses 1 Simple Trick for Perfect Burgers

If you’re searching for the perfect hamburger, Barefoot Contessa star Ina Garten‘s smashed burgers recipe has a simple trick she uses that delivers big flavors. It’s a foolproof method for searing, with additional ingredients that put a new spin on the classic comfort food.

'Barefoot Contessa' Ina Garten on the 'Today' show in 2017
‘Barefoot Contessa’ Ina Garten | Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Ina Garten shares the secret to a perfect burger

In Garten’s Modern Comfort Food cookbook, her recipe for burgers is a standout since it’s a favorite for many people. Getting a perfectly juicy and tasty hamburger isn’t in everyone’s wheelhouse, but Garten has found a foolproof trick that makes it easy for even a kitchen novice to succeed.

“Comfort is so key right now,” Garten explained during an interview with Bloomberg. “I knew I wanted to provide foods that make people feel better — but modern, with fresher ingredients. Not a plain old mac and cheese.”

One of the old standbys Garten put her Barefoot Contessa spin on is burgers. “Could there possibly be a new way to make hamburgers that I didn’t know about?” Garten writes in her book. “As it turns out, there is!”

Here’s her secret — freeze the meat for 15 minutes before you cook it. The chilled meat hits the hot skillet and creates a caramelized crust while the inside is juicy.

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Ina Garten’s smashed burgers recipe is quick and easy

Garten’s smashed burgers recipe has some more grown-up flavors than the traditional cheeseburger — there are no processed cheese slices listed in her ingredients, for one thing. She adds caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese to her delicious cheeseburger and only seasons the meat with salt, pepper, and dry mustard powder.

Ingredients

  • Canola or grapeseed oil
  • 2 medium red onions, sliced ¼ inch thick (4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1¼ pounds ground beef with 20% fat
  • 1¼ cups grated Gruyère cheese (4 oz.)
  • 4 sandwich potato rolls

Begin by heating 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Carmelize the onions by cooking them for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. The onions will start to become brown and more tender. Add the sugar and continue to cook the onions over low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally until the onions are caramelized. Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan, stirring for another 30 seconds.

Combine the dry mustard, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and sprinkle it over the ground beef in a bowl. Garten recommends lightly combining the seasoning with the beef so it doesn’t become too packed down. Form the beef into 1-inch-thick patties, again not compacting the meat too much.

Place the patties on a plate and freeze them for 15 minutes.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1½ tablespoons oil, swirling to coat the pan in oil. Add the chilled patties once the oil is heated. Press each patty into the skillet with a metal spatula.

Cook the burgers for 2½ to 3 minutes, undisturbed, to allow the bottoms to form a crust. Flip the burgers and top each patty with onions and cheese.

Put a lid on the pan and allow the burgers to cook for another 1½ to 2 minutes. The cheese will be melted and the burgers medium-rare.