Friday, November 27, 2015

Burger tips from Spike Mendelsohn

Part of his spiel was the art of burger-making. As he and his chef Max Albano knocked out his signature Prez Obama burger and the Colletti's Smokehouse burger, he let on some suggestions for at-home.

Burger tips from Spike Mendelsohn


Spike Mendelsohn, who recently opened a Philadelphia branch of his D.C.-based Good Stuff Eatery, dropped into Cook - the Rittenhouse demo kitchen - on Thursday, Aug. 7.

Part of his spiel was the art of burger-making. As he and his chef Max Albano knocked out grilled corn and his signature Prez Obama burger and Colletti's Smokehouse burger, he let on some suggestions for at-home.

At Good Stuff, he makes his burgers out of short rib, chuck and brisket, 82 percent lean.

Make sure the meat is at room temperature before cooking.

Use a hot flat top.

Lay the patties on the flat top; do not compress heavily.

Season them with salt and pepper at this point, not too early in the process.

Cook burgers several minutes. Then flip and cook several minutes more.

They will not be done, but remove them from the grill and place them on a metal sheet to rest for five minutes. Mendelsohn says this action allows impurities to drain off. (Voila - no more soggy buns.)

Then return the burgers to the grill.

If you're topping the burgers with cheese and bacon - and that's a good thing - lay the bacon atop the patty and place the cheese on top. This will melt the cheese into the patty. Then cover the burgers with a lid to allow the top to melt.

Cook the burgers to your liking.

Use a Martin's potato roll.

The Prez Obama burger came to be back during the Obama-McCain presidential campaign, when Good Stuff ran a poll of its own.

Mendelsohn devised the Obama with Applewood bacon, onion marmalade, Roquefort cheese and horseradish mayo sauce. He also created a McCain burger topped with Southwestern chipotle mayo, corn and roasted red pepper salsa, jack cheese, lettuce, and tomato.

Good Stuff used sales of the burgers to determine a winner. The Obama burger, Mendelsohn said, was far and away the better seller and won a spot on the menu.

Mendelsohn capped off the meal with toasted marshmallow shakes, a menu staple at Good Stuff. And if you're making them at home from The Good Stuff Cookbook, ignore the direction to toast the marshmallows in an oven. Won't work, Mendelsohn told us.

He and Albano laid the marshmallows in a single layer on sheet pans and took a blowtorch to them. That did the trick.

Mendelsohn also disclosed one other piece of business. He plans to open a branch of We, the Pizza in Philly. Stay tuned.

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Michael Klein, the editor/producer of, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here.

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