If you've ever tried to cook a burger in your home kitchen or on the grill, the results were most likely hit-or-miss. Maybe it turned out perfectly cooked inside, but gray and lifeless on the outside, or possibly the outside had a nice crust but the inside was overcooked. But head to your favorite burger spot and not only are the patties perfectly cooked to your preferred temperature, they're also nice and crusty on the outside. What gives?
Here's the deal: Most top-notch burger places use a well-seasoned cast-iron griddle to cook their burgers. These griddles are set at a perfect temperature, one that allows the burgers to quickly get a nice crust while remaining pink on the inside; the patties are also often pressed into the griddle right after they hit the grill and then scraped off with a sharp spatula, so that all of the crust comes with it. Most great burger chefs can tell when a burger is cooked just by pressing on it, and they melt cheese on top by covering the patty with a bowl and squirting some water underneath, creating steam.
The fact of the matter is, a great burger is really hard to cook at home. But if you have a heavy-duty cast iron pan and a good metal spatula (as well as a functional hood for proper smoke ventilation), you've got the right tools for the job. Practice makes perfect, but if you'd rather just eat your burgers at a restaurant, find out here where to get the best burger in your state.