Welcome to Meat Frankie, a burger bar on Melbourne's famous Lygon Street specialising in bold American flavours. We had the opportunity to speak with Frank, the burger master behind Meat Frankie, about how the restaurant came to be and his passion for the smash burger. Frank also shared some burger tips on how to master the technique at home alongside his expert cookware suggestions.
Frank Meat Frankie
When asked about the inspiration behind Meat Frankie, Frank explained that it stemmed from his time travelling throughout America and living in Toronto, Canada, for two years. He loved the simple, no-fuss approach to burgers. He wanted to create a classic American burger in Australia with the consumers' choice of toppings and his personal touch in selecting the perfect beef patty and bun.
While the menu isn’t exactly small, its simplicity allows every Meat Frankie customer to customise their burger to match their desires. Choose from a standard hamburger, cheeseburger or bacon and cheese burger with free toppings, including lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, jalapeno, mushroom, ketchup, mayo, mustard and Frankie's sauce.
Aside from smash burgers, you can also grab some of their signature sandwiches, including a fried chicken sandwich with secret sauce, alongside classic American hot dogs, and plenty of sides like crinkle cut fries, poutine for the Canucks, slaw and even grilled cheese toasties.
Their burgers are “hands down some of the best burgers in Melbourne”, according to The Urban List, which included them among the 20 Best Burgers Melbourne Has To Offer In 2023.
What is a Smash Burger?
Smash burgers are a popular variation that has gained significant attention in the burger community.
A smash burger is made by smashing a ball of ground beef onto a hot griddle, using a spatula to press down firmly and create a thin, crispy patty. This technique creates a sear on the meat, adding flavour and texture to the burger.
Compared to a standard burger, smash burgers are typically thinner and have a crispy, caramelised exterior. And because they’re typically cooked on a sizzling hot cast iron skillet or cooktop, they also cook much faster, resulting in a juicier and arguably tastier burger patty.
The extra hot grill allows for an even cooking temperature across the patty.
On the other hand, a classic Australian burger typically includes a beef patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon, beetroot, pineapple, and egg; all served on a bun with sauce, otherwise known as a burger with the lot. Besides the array of toppings, the critical difference between a smash burger and a classic Aussie burger is the technique used to cook the patty.
While a smash burger and a classic Aussie burger both involve beef patties served on buns, they differ in the cooking technique and additional ingredients used, resulting in different textures and flavour profiles. Traditional Aussie burger patties are thicker and aren’t smashed onto the grill.
Making Smash Burgers
If you're looking to grill the burger of your dreams, Meat Frankie specialises in smashed patties, which means you’re about to learn how to make burger patties from mince master Frank!
Forming the perfect patty can be challenging, but Frank recommends using meat that consists of 70% lean and 30% fat for a great smashed patty. Chuck and brisket are a great combination; be sure to mince your beef twice for optimal texture.
Frank shared some tips to get your smashed patty right:
1. Pre-roll your burger mix
2. Season with salt and pepper once smashed
3. Roll your patty into an 80g to 110g ball of meat to make it thin
4. Use something to smash your patty onto the grill, like a spatula or meat mallet,
5. Use a piece of grease-proof paper to prevent sticking;
6. Use a hot grill or cast iron pan;
7. Flip once, and don't smash again.
You won't need to add spices and herbs to your patty if you have a variety of meat. Just a pinch of salt and let your meat do the work.
Pro Tip: throw down a few slices of cheese on top of your burger patties after flipping for some melted cheesy goodness.
Oklahoma Smash Burgers
A regional variation of the smash burger is the Oklahoma-style burger. You take your standard smash patty with a generous amount of sliced onions and smash them all onto the grill.
Only press once, and then leave the patty alone. Any further pressing will release valuable juices into the pan. Cook for about a minute and a half per side, and you're done.
Choosing The Right Buns
Choosing the proper bun for a burger is as crucial as smashing the perfect patty. A good bun should complement the flavours of the burger and hold up to the weight and juiciness of the ingredients.
Here are a few suggestions for the best buns for a burger:
• Brioche buns: These buns have a soft, slightly sweet texture that pairs well with a juicy burger. They can hold up to the weight of the ingredients without falling apart.
• Pretzel buns: These buns have a slightly chewy texture and a salty flavour that adds a unique twist to a classic burger. They also have a sturdy structure that can handle heavy ingredients.
• Potato buns: These buns have a soft texture and a slightly sweet flavour that complements the savoury flavours of a burger. And they’re just dense enough to handle the weight of a thick patty.
• Ciabatta rolls: These rolls have a crispy crust and a soft, chewy interior that adds a unique texture to a burger. They can also absorb the juices from the burger without becoming soggy.
When selecting a bun, it's essential to consider the size of the patty and the toppings. A larger patty may require a sturdier bun, while a bun with a softer texture may be better suited for a smaller patty.
Crafting the perfect burger sauce can take a burger from good to great. A home cook should consider the following when making a burger sauce:
Flavour: The sauce should complement the burger's flavours and enhance its overall taste. Consider using ingredients that pair well with the patty, such as mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, or hot sauce.
Texture: A good burger sauce should have a smooth texture that evenly coats the burger without being too runny or thick. Consider using a food processor or blender to ensure the sauce is well-mixed and has a consistent texture.
Balance: A great burger sauce should balance the flavours of sweet, sour, salty, and savoury. Taste the sauce as you go and adjust the seasoning accordingly to achieve the desired balance.
Customisation: Burger sauce is a great opportunity to get creative and make it your own. Consider adding your favourite spices or herbs, such as garlic, paprika, or basil, to give the sauce a unique flavour.
Serving size: Consider how much sauce you want to put on each burger. A sauce that's too heavy can overpower the burger and make it soggy. A good rule of thumb is to use a tablespoon of sauce per burger, but you can adjust this to your preference.
Your goal is to create a sauce that complements the burger and enhances its overall taste.
Burger Making Tools
Now that you have the secret method, it’s time to stock up on some quality burger-making tools with some cookware recommendations from Minimax.
• Meat Grinder: If you want to start making your burger patties, a food grinder like those from KitchenAid makes mincing burger meat a breeze with its metal food grinder attachment. And thanks to their wide range of cooking attachments, your KitchenAid mixer will help you master more than just burgers. For those that prefer old-school methods of meat grinding, the No. 8 Davis & Waddell Meat Mincer with 3 Blades is a quality option.
• Skillet: Cast iron is, without a doubt, the best cookware material for cooking burgers indoors. But if you want the absolute best, you can’t overlook the legendary Lodge Logic line of pre-seasoned cookware. Their skillets are perfect for cooking up a few burgers at a time, but if you’re cooking for a big group, their Lodge Cast Iron Double Play Reversible Grill / Griddle provides a massive cooking space you can even use over a roaring fire.
Become a Burger Master
Whether you're a burger fanatic or looking to impress at your next barbecue, mastering the perfect burger requires the proper techniques and tools. Meat Frankie shared some great tips to get you started, and with the right equipment and cookware from the Minimax online store, you can create restaurant-quality burgers in the comfort of your home. And if you’re looking for the perfect accompaniment to your smash burgers, why not try our Crispy Onion Rings recipe from the Minimax Style Blog?