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Shake Shack divulges burger secrets in its new cookbook

Shake Shack, the popular, fast-growing burger chain, has just released a cookbook, and, yes, it includes directions for preparing its signature burger.

Well, sort of.

In “Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories” (Clarkson Potter, $26), authors Randy Garutti and Mark Rosati (the company’s CEO and culinary director, respectively), in collaboration with James Beard award-winning editor Dorothy Kalins, offer a reasonable home-cook facsimile of the famous ShackBurger, along with nearly 70 recipes that approximate Shake Shack classics, including crinkle fries, corn dogs, the Chick’n Shack sandwich and frozen custard shakes.

The “stories” side of the book tells tales of Shake Shack history, profiles key collaborators and suppliers, discusses methodologies, provides recipe-related commentary and illuminates the company’s key-to-success business practices. Anyone with an interest in all-American fare will find it helpful and readable.

“My favorite burger is a plain cheeseburger,” writes Rosati. “I wish it were more complicated, but it’s not. If the meat is fresh (say ‘No’ to that convenient packaged pre-ground meat, and just once, have whole muscles ground for you; I promise, you’ll taste the difference), well seasoned (simply, with salt and freshly ground pepper), properly cooked with a nice salty crust (a quick sear on a hot, flat surface to lock in the juices, but not cooked so long those juices dry up), the cheese is melted and creamy, and it’s cradled by a bun that’s nicely toasted yet still soft and pillowy on the outside, I don’t ask for anything more. That is the most perfect burger bite of my life: when the interior juices of the burger meet the creaminess of the cheese, comingle, and create a natural sauce. If you understand the basics, you can have that experience, too. It’s the most primal, simple, and pleasurable expression of what a great burger is all about.”

When it comes to preparing the burger, here are a few notes: Shake Shack prefers potato rolls from Martin’s in Chambersburg, Penn. Unfortunately, the mega-bakery doesn’t supply Twin Cities metro area supermarkets with its milk- and potato-enriched buns. (Conveniently, Lunds & Byerly’s bakes their own version; a dozen runs about $10).

The Shake Shack’s exact beef formula – created by butcher Pat LaFrieda -- isn’t revealed, but the book does outline that the formula follows a mix of brisket, chuck and short rib (the percentages aren’t mentioned). The beef is fresh, not frozen, and it’s all-natural Angus, raised without hormones or antibiotics.

For home cooks with a meat grinder (or a friendly butcher), here’s the recommendation: cut the meat into small pieces, and chill the beef; do not bring it to room temperature. On the first grind, use the coarse plate, and on the second grind, rely upon a finer plate.

When it comes to toasting the buns, “We say a well toasted bun should look like perfectly cooked French toast,” writes the authors. They prefer Roma tomatoes because “they are firm enough to hold their shape and color and add a sweet note to balance the salty crust of the burger,” they write.

And why American cheese? “It is quite simply the creamiest, meltingest cheese there is, bringing its special tang to a cheeseburger,” writes the authors. “Buy it sliced; it’s easier to drape on a hot burger.”

Here’s the recipe. Of course, if you want Shake Shack to do the cooking, the company’s Mall of America location is open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.


Serves 4.

Note: “Like most deceptively simple things, it took us years to get it right, but now you can master burger perfection in five minutes,” write authors Randy Garutti and Mark Rosati in “Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories.”

4 hamburger potato buns

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

4 tbsp. ShackSauce [see Recipe]

4 pieces green leaf lettuce

8 ½-inch slices ripe plum tomato

1 lb. very cold ground beef, divided into 4 pucks

½ teaspoon Our Salt & Pepper Mix [see Recipe]

4 slices American cheese

Directions: Heat a cast-iron griddle over medium-low heat until warm. Meanwhile, open the hamburger buns and brush the insides with melted butter (a soft brush is helpful here). Place the buns, buttered-side down, on the griddle and toast until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer buns to a plate. Spoon the ShackSauce  [see Recipe, below] onto the top bun. Add a piece of the lettuce and 2 slices of the tomato.

Increase the heat to medium and heat the griddle until hot, 2 to 3 minutes.

Evenly sprinkle a pinch of Our Salt & Pepper Mix [see Recipe, below] on top of each puck of meat.

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.

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 2 ½ minutes. Slide one of the spatulas beneath the burger to release it from the griddle and scrape up the caramelized brown 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 for 1 minute longer for medium. Cook more or less, depending upon your preference. 

Transfer cheeseburgers to prepared buns and enjoy.


Makes about ½ cup.

Note: From “Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories." “We’re surely not going to publish THE formula for our secret sauce,” write the authors. “But this recipe comes pretty darn close with home ingredients. It’s our homage to everything sweet, salty, sour and smoky that’s ever been put on top of a burger.”

½ c. Hellmann’s mayonnaise

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

¾ tsp. Heinz ketchup

¼ tsp. kosher dill pickling brine

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions: In a small mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, pickling brine and cayenne pepper and stir until well combined. Sauce will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Makes about ½ cup.

Note: From “Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories.”

½ c. kosher salt

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

Directions: In a small bowl, combine salt and pepper. “Use the mixture to season our burgers as they cook,” write authors Randy Garutti and Mark Rosati. “You’ll see why we call for a pinch or two of the mixture in every recipe.”

A 160-year-old Minnesota beer is coming back to life on Friday

When Cold Spring Brewing retired Gluek Beer in 2010, after decades of the brew passing through different ownership hands and struggling to survive, the company had lost hope for the historic label.

“They told me ‘Nobody cares about Gluek Beer except you,’ ” Linda Rae Holcomb said. “That really fueled me.”

So Holcomb, whose family connection to the legendary lager dates back to prohibition, took matters into her own hands. In 2015, she obtained the trademark and copyrights for the 160-year-old beer. Then she found a German chemist to rewrite the recipe and enlisted a Denver brewing company to handle production.

On Friday, she’ll be reintroducing Gluek Beer to the public, re-releasing the suds on its would-be 160th anniversary.

“This beer has a real history,” Holcomb. “It was the first manufacturing company in Minneapolis. It was the first to patent malt liquor in the U.S. It was one of just three breweries to supply beer to the U.S. Army in World War II.

“They really were pioneers … What I’ve done is restore the original intention of [founder] Gottlieb Gluek."

Holcomb's history makes her as qualified as anyone to make that determination. Her great grandfather, Charlie Fransen, was “the right hand man” of the Gluek family, who had emigrated from Germany, helping with matters at the brewery and on their farm.

Later, Fransen opened what is now Gluek’s Bar in downtown Minneapolis – at midnight on the night that prohibition ended, with a line of people waiting outside to pile in. One of their most popular brews? Gluek Beer. Holcomb – who now is also an international yoga and nutrition teacher – began working at the bar as a hostess at age 14 and worked there on and off until just two years ago, taking time off for college, travel and starting her own merchandizing company.

After Gottlieb Gluek passed away and the brewery was destroyed in a fire, the rights were sold and bounced around from company to company for several decades. Along the way, Holcomb believes, the recipe was tainted.

“Every brewery that picked it up was busy making their own beer,” she said. “They were pushing out a low-budget, knock-off, bad beer with the label on it to see how far they could go with it.”

Where the original 44 recipes are hidden is still a mystery – Holcomb calls them her “Holy Grail” – so after purchasing the brand, she enlisted St. Paul’s BevSource, which helped her find Ray Klimovitz, a German chemist living in Wisconsin, who wrote a new recipe. Sleeping Giant Brewing Company, in Denver, is handling the production.

The result is a beer distinct from its most recent predecessor, Holcomb says: a clean, crisp, sessionable pilsner.

The can – with dark blue stripes and "Gluek’s" written in cursive red lettering – is based off the original with Tom Jahnke, the son of the original designer, uncovering the old art files.

Beginning Friday, thirsty beer drinkers should be able to find Gluek’s in restaurants, bars and liquor stores around the state. Holcomb is also targeting casinos, ballparks and hopes to eventually reintegrate Gluek Beer in the 27 states where it was once distributed.

“It’s been a slow, methodical process,” Holcomb said. “But the more obstacles placed in front of me, the more I’ve been inspired to leap over them.

"It's been serendipity how it's all come together."

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