Fast food history is filled with secret formulas: Mrs. Field’s cookies, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Coca-Cola or the special sauce on McDonald’s Big Macs.
Fans are always looking for ways to crack the code and make their own versions at home.
Watch Nedra Rhone and Jewel Wicker make a Shake Shack Shack Burger:
Rather than keep consumers guessing, the founders of the fine casual burger joint, Shake Shack, decided to give up the goods (sort of) in a new book.
In “Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories,” (Clarkson Potter, $26), Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti and Culinary Director, Mark Rosati, offer up recipes to make “close-enough” versions of almost everything on the menu.
Shake Shack, founded by Danny Meyer, launched in 2001 in NYC’s Madison Square Park as a hot dog cart designed to raise money for the park. After three summers, it became a permanent kiosk and the long lines became legendary. Customers used trees in the park or checked the Shack Cam on ShakeShack.com to determine wait times.
In 2014, Shake Shack opened its first location in the luxury retail complex, The Shops Buckhead Atlanta. Last year, another location opened in Perimeter Mall.
While the book reveals all the details on what has gone into creating the menu items served up at Shake Shack (with recipes to make your own versions at home), it also offers the stories of the people behind the scenes including a local, Ruth Alceus, assistant general manager of Shake Shack in Atlanta.
Alceus had previously worked at Burger King in Miami Beach, but in 2010 interviewed at Shake Shack. She had no idea what Shake Shack was then, but quickly drank the Kool-Aid, she said.
“Randy and Danny came to work with us and I thought, ‘When does a CEO and chairman just show up like that?'” she said in her interview. “I got to know the people who came to cross-train us. I saw that they were regular people like me, but they were traveling the world. And I began to think I could do better things too. It was pretty cool and life changing,” Alceus said.
The mother of six served as manager when a Shack location opened in Coral Gables and in 2014, she moved to Atlanta to open the first Shack in Buckhead. Last year, she took on her newest role with the company. Atlanta is a place she always wanted to live. “It makes a difference for my kids. For everything,” she said.
The ShackBurger is the crown jewel (or sacred cow as they call it) of the brand. It involves a special blend of ground beef which meatmaster Pat LaFrieda says he will never give up, but he does offer a few blends that you can grind at home (twice through the grinder!) for a close approximation.
Once you’ve created a puck for the beef, use a stainless steel spatula and griddle pan to cook your burger. Pressing the burger down in the fist 30 seconds with a spatula on top of another spatula is vital to making sure you get the most evenly browned burger. Follow the instructions on prepping your buns and making a “close enough” version of the secret sauce, and you’ve got an almost ShackBurger.
Other recipes follow for the hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, shakes, fries and drinks served at Shack locations worldwide, as well as additional profiles of suppliers and company employees.
The fun ends with a special addition, the recipe for the Pooch-ini, the treats made specially for all the dogs who accompany their owners to Shack locations.
RECIPE & INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING A SHAKE SHACK SHACKBURGER:
4 hamburger potato buns
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons not quite our ShackSauce (see below)
4 pieces green leaf lettuce
8 1/4-inch slices ripe plum tomato
1 pound very cold ground beef, divided into 4 pucks
1/2 teaspoon salt & pepper mix ( see below)
4 slices American cheese
CLOSE ENOUGH SHACK SAUCE (MAKES ABOUT 1/2 CUP)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s suggested)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon ketchup (Heinz suggested)
1/4 teaspoon kosher dill pickling brine
pinch cayenne pepper
SALT & PEPPER MIX
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat a cast-iron griddle over medium-low heat until warm. Meanwhile, open the hamburger buns and brush the insides with the melted butter. A soft brush is helpful here. Place the buns buttered side down on the griddle and toast until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer buns to a plate. Spoon the sauce onto the top bun. Add a piece of the lettuce and two slices of tomato.
2. Increase the heat to medium and heat the griddle until hot, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Evenly sprinkle a pinch of salt & pepper mix on top of each puck of meat.
4. Place the pucks on the griddle, seasoned side down. Using a large, sturdy metal spatula, firmly smash each puck into a 1/3-inch thick round patty. Pressing down on the spatula with another stiff spatula helps flatten the burger quickly. Evenly sprinkle another big pinch of our salt & pepper mix.
5. Cook the burgers, resisting the urge to move them, until the edges beneath are brown and crisp, and juices on the surface are bubbling hot, about 2½ minutes. Slide one of the spatulas beneath the burger to release it from the griddle and scrape up the caramelized browned crust. Use the other spatula to steady the burger and keep it from sliding. Flip the burgers. Put the cheese on top and cook the burgers 1 minute longer for medium. Cook more or less depending on your preference.
6. Transfer the cheeseburgers to the prepared buns and enjoy.