In the basement of the Shake Shack in New York City’s West Village, you will find the Shake Shack Innovation Kitchen, where executive chef and vice president of culinary innovation John Karangis and his team come up with new ideas to add to the menu. The latest is the relaunch of the ShakeMeister Burger, which is basically a ShackBurger topped with crispy beer-marinated shallots. There are also three new shakes available: Cookie Butter, Malted Milk Chocolate, and Frozen Hot Chocolate. All of these items are available now at Shake Shack locations nationwide until March 31.
The ShackMeister Burger was first introduced in 2014 at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival, and has been brought back to life because, according to Karangis, customers have been asking for onion rings — something that is not on the menu. The Innovation Kitchen frequently comes up with new menu times that are tested out at the restaurant upstairs, and there is the occasional misstep. One example Karangis recalled was the Black Sesame Shake, which was not as popular as the team envisioned after being rolled out nationally. But he said the team tries to learn from its mistakes and works on balancing innovation with reasonable expectations of what consumers want to eat and drink. When asked about the rising popularity of plant-based eating and fast food chains offering Impossible Burgers, Karangis said they are keeping an eye on these trends and haven’t ruled anything out.
At a recent press event, Chef Karangis gave a demo of how a burger is cooked at Shake Shack. The process is pretty simple: start off with a puck of ground beef, press it flat on the grill, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for about 90 seconds on each side. Then put it on a grilled bun and top with American cheese and ShackSauce. For aspiring home chefs, he offered the following tips for making the perfect burger in your own kitchen:
- To get the perfect sear, flatten your burger patty by pressing down on it with a sturdy metal spatula, as evenly as you can to ensure the same thickness throughout. This also allows the burger patty to cook evenly.
- Seasoning the burger correctly is a critical part of the process. At Shake Shack, we like to use kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and we evenly spread over the entire patty.
- It’s very important to make sure your meat isn’t wet before you begin. Nor should you add any additional oil. If your meat is wet, simply pat dry with paper towels. Not doing this will prohibit the meat from a proper stick on the grill. Sticking to the grill is the single most important part in creating the optimum caramelization.
- Always toast your burger buns. Brush the insides of the bun with melted butter, and then place the buttered side down on your griddle until the toast is golden brown. Toasting will add some additional richness and sweetness from the butter as well as ‘waking up’ the wonderful flavors of the potato bun.
- Watch the bottom of your burger patty to know when it’s the precise time to flip it. It should get a dark golden brown crust around the outside of the patty. Resist the temptation to move the patty until the edges beneath are brown and crisp.
- For cheeseburgers, once you’ve added a slice of cheese on top of your burger patty, pull the burger off the grill when you see the cheese getting soft, about 45 seconds. At Shake Shack, we like to immediately place our burgers on top of our buns to ensure the residual burger juices have a nice place to rest (on the bun).