Note: Recipe and text excerpted and adapted from Wicked Good Burgers by Andy Husbands, Chris Hart and Andrea Pyenson (Fair Winds Press 2013)
• 2 pounds bison or ground bison (ask your butcher for a blend of bison cuts that will yield an 80/20 meat-to-fat ratio)
• Kosher salt to taste
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for cooking
• 4 large potato buns
• 8 slices yellow deli-style American cheese
• Garnishes: Jarred sliced pickles, sliced onion, ketchup, mustard, Special Sauce (recipe follows)
1. If grinding, cut the bison into strips and freeze until stiff, about 45 minutes, then grind, using the coarse grinder plate. (We recommend storing the grinder parts in the freezer, to avoid the heat created by the friction of the grinder's many moving parts.) Divide the ground meat into 8 equal portions and shape each into a ball about the size of a golf ball. Salt the tops of each bison ball.
2. Heat a skillet over high heat until very hot. (If using an outdoor grill, make sure that your skillet or griddle is suitable for use on the grill.) If you have an infrared thermometer, the skillet should register at least 500°F. Or test by brushing on a bit of oil. When the skillet starts to smoke, it is ready.
3. If your skillet is not big enough to accommodate all of the burgers at the same time, cook them in batches. Line a platter with butcher paper or a large piece of a paper grocery bag. (We don't think paper towels are sturdy enough for this job; they absorb too much moisture and destroy the crust.) Open your windows and/or turn on your oven fan. There's gonna be some smoke!
4. Place the burgers on the skillet, salted side down. Press gently and cook for 1 minute. After 1 minute, using a sturdy spatula, smash each burger until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Salt the tops of the smashed burgers.
5. Cook for 2 more minutes and then flip the burgers. Lay a piece of American cheese on each burger and cook for 2 more minutes.
6. If cooking in batches, transfer the burgers to the platter. Repeat until all the burgers are cooked. Note that this method cooks the burgers almost through with just a bit of pink in the center. We sacrifice our usual preference for rare-ish meat in order to get that wonderfully crispy exterior. Once you have transferred the burgers to the platter, don't cover them or put them in the oven. You want to preserve what you worked so hard to achieve.
7. To serve: Place 1 patty on the bottom half of a bun. (If you have some burgers resting from an earlier batch, place them back on the skillet for a minute to warm them up.) Stack another burger on top and garnish with pickles and onion. Spread mustard, ketchup, and Special Sauce on the other bun half, place that on the burger. Serves 4.
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 2 tablespoons ketchup
• 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon pickle relish
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep in refrigerator, in a tightly sealed container, for up to two weeks. Makes 3/4 cup.