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Making diner-style thin burger patties

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Man, this is something I never thought I'd be asking! Anyhow, yesterday I stumbled across a link a fellow CH'er provided called "McMenu: DIY McDonald's Restaurant Recipes" and quite against my nature, I became very intrigued. I don't like Mcd's and haven't been there, or to any FF place, in literally so long I can't remember. Like decades. But, for some reason, I feel a peculiar compulsion to try making some of this stuff. The first thing that I consider a real obstacle thought is, how do I get a thin, uniformly round burger patty? My burgers are always nice, fat, juicy. I've never had occasion to even want a thin frozen patty like you get at McD's. Any secret to it?

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  1. What instructions does the recipe give, and is it supposed to be a "copycat," or just technically representational? If it's the former, I'd head straight to Costco and purchase 1/4 lb. frozen patties with those funky little perforations. That's the ONLY way you'll get the Mickey's actual flava, or even come close to approximating it. If it's just ingredient driven, I'd buy 80/20 ground beef and use only 2 1/2 oz. to shape thin patties between waxed papar. I said the 1/4 lb. patties because I don't think you'll find anything smaller frozen, but the 2+ oz. weight is closer to the real deal except of course the quarter-pounder.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      There are 2 (or 3?) oz frozen burgers available wholesale that are closest to fast food ones. I wouldn't try to make them that thin myself, easier to buy. Maybe I could handle 4 oz but that wouldn't be Mickey D.

      1. re: coll

        I'll look into that - I'd much rather buy if possible.

        1. re: coll

          Those sound interesting alright. This pdf that I have is based on their production methods from the 50s-70s so those aren't in there unfortunately.

          1. re: TheCarrieWatson

            Nice to have on hand in the freezer. They cook up frozen in minutes. If you have a food wholesaler, or a Jetco/Restaurant Depot near you, that's where you need to check. You won't find these at Costco!

      2. My dad used to work for a franchisor in the fast food business. The patties are generally formed at the meat processor using a press. I think that in the US most major chain "burger joints" use 8-to-the-pound patties for their regular burgers at a four inch diameter, but they may be larger around. You can order those patties from a meat supplier and specify the fat content (85/15 like at a grocery store or something else). I sometimes see them at Costco or the grocery. You can also press your own.

        To press patties, get a press. Really. I have a Tupperware one. It is a plastic ring with a disc that fits inside it. The disk has a handle. Weigh the meat, put it in the ring, inser the disc and press hard to make a uniform patty. It may take a few tries to get it the way you want.

        Some restaurants use 10/# burgers. "Quarter pound" patties are, of course, 4/#.

        Wendy's got famous using square patties and round buns. The idea is to have meat hanging out of the bun making you believe you have more meat.

        1 Reply
        1. re: travelerjjm

          I have had that same Tupperware burger press for years and I love it. My kids prefer real thin patties like McDonalds and it makes it easy. You have control over the thickness based on how much meat you use.

          I have seen a similar inexpensive press at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

        2. For a uniform patty, the easiest way would be to use a mold or patty press.I'm not sure how common they are, but I recall seeing a Nordic Ware one at Target a few days ago.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Cinnamonster

            I use a salad plate that has a rimmed edge. The rim stops the meat and makes a sweet little patty.

          2. A MacD's regular burger patty is 1/10 pound each. Pretty thin, I'd say.

            1. Great info - thanks! A patty press - I'll look into that. the 1/4" frozen patties are the first thing I thought of but too big for any but the Quarter Pounder, I think.

              Mamachef - I think it's more technical, if I understand your question. It's a really cool read, surprisingly. For Example:

              Ingredients
              1 Pound ground chuck (80% lean)
              10 Small hamburger buns
              10 Hamburger dill slices
              10 teaspoons dried, chopped onion
              McDonald’s Hamburger Seasoning
              Mustard, Ketchup… and… waxed paper
              The Hamburger Seasoning
              4 tablespoons salt
              2 tablespoons Accent® (MSG)
              1 teaspoon ground black pepper
              1/4 teaspoon onion powder

              Mix all ingredients well in a spice shaker with big enough holes to allow pepper to flow. Makes about 3
              ounces. Use on ALL McDonald's hamburgers. (unless you're allergic to MSG, then just use salt and pepper)

              The Beef Patties

              Divide 1 lb of beef into 10 equal sized balls. Form a patty out of each ball about 4 inches in diameter and 1/4
              inch thick. Do this on waxed paper.
              Now freeze the patties for at least an hour. (this keeps them from falling apart when you grill them)
              Obviously you'll do this in advance of "burger time". It is pretty tough to make patties this small, so if you come
              up with 9 patties, I'll forgive you.

              The Onions

              Put the dried onions in a container, oh.. like Tupperware… and add water. Water should be a few inches over
              the top of the onions. (better to have too much water than not enough) Cover, and refrigerate about 1/2 hour.
              Drain the liquid, and BAM… you have McDonald's little baby onions.
              Cover again and refrigerate until 'burger time'.

              The Pickles

              McDonald’s pickle slices are unique in flavor, very sour dills. The only product I know of that comes close to
              the distinctive flavor is HEINZ Genuine Dills. (original sour dill) But they don't come in slices, so slice your own
              VERY thin. I can't do it very well with a knife, so I use a K-Tel "dial-a-slice" home vegetable slicer. ALSO…
              Vlasic "original" dills have that tart flavor. Make sure they're not "kosher" dills. Wal-Mart® carries Vlasic
              ORIGINAL dills, and you have to slice those too. (note, these pickles are pretty small, so slice at an angle…
              you'll get bigger dill chips) USE THESE PICKLES ON ALL McDonald’s HAMBURGERS!

              3 Replies
              1. re: TheCarrieWatson

                Now I'll have to give it a look! I've had some suprisingly decent results w/ copycat recipes.

                1. re: mamachef

                  Here - try this:

                  http://www.scribd.com/doc/230587/McMe...

                  Hopefully that'll work for ya!

                  1. re: mamachef

                    That sounds perfect.

                2. If your mission is to create a thin burger, then I see no need for the concern to make it uniformly round.m especially if only cooking a few burgers. I can see premaking them as a matter of prudence for convenience and if you plan to make then, for a large group, and or if you plan on freezing.

                  To make a thin burger, I prefer to use the SmashBurger/ Steak n Shakemethod....where you take a ball of meat and smash it flat to the thickness you want....It does not matter what size ball you use...whether less than two ounces like McDonald's does, or using a eight ounce. The benefit of doing this with fresh ground meat, as opposed to a frozen patty, is you can create more surface crust and the the burger will not curl and steam like a frozen patty would.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: fourunder

                    True enough. BUT it would not be as uniform in thickness. Also, the OP wanted that fast food style flavor, which at least sometimes, requires frozen patties. I strongly prefer Wendy's if I eat fast food burgers and their patties are "never frozen". I do like the Steak n Shake method -- I grew up on those burgers.

                    1. re: travelerjjm

                      I'm also going to guess that the meat is 80/20, to be authentic. When a burger is that thin, it won't cook right from fresh, frozen would definitely be easier to get right.

                      1. re: coll

                        Yes indeed - it does specity 80/20, which is what I'd normally use anyway. I guess back in the day they used USDA Certified 100% ground chuck. God knows what they're using now.

                        1. re: TheCarrieWatson

                          80/20 can be defined as 100% Ground Chuck.....or Ground Beef......as long as the fat comes from beef/cattle.

                  2. What about other McDonald's recipes? I liked the McPepper in Hong Kong (and couldn't find the sauce recipe online). I hear the Maharaja Mac (a Big Mac made with lamb instead of beef) from India is pretty good, too.

                    1. http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: sandylc

                        He had to go to MIT to learn how to do that?

                        : 0 )

                        1. re: fourunder

                          Great way to make a living.....

                      2. Try this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-oz...

                        1. I read somewhere that if you flatten your burger and then before throwing it on the griddle (yep, griddle for a McD styler) you put a hole in the center like a donut it will not plump up, but will instead fill in.

                          You could mince onions and fry them. I think there are little onions, sliced pickles like coins, and certainly salt the patty. I bet they butter and griddle the bun too. Or steam it maybe.

                          I like a good smashed burger occasionally. But they are thicker than the McDonalds variety. I smash it crazy thin, massively salt and pepper it and then griddle fry it and melt lots of american cheese slices onto it and mayo and mustard globbed on. Sometimes nothing else will do. And not lean meat, but a fat bomb. Ah... that explains the snug pants. Darnit!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Sal Vanilla

                            Sal Vanilla about 8 hours ago

                            I read somewhere that if you flatten your burger and then before throwing it on the griddle (yep, griddle for a McD styler) you put a hole in the center like a donut it will not plump up, but will instead fill in.
                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                            This is done for a thick burger......but not a hole, merely a depression .Visualize a Bialy, not a Bagel.