In February 2021, chef Andy St. Ange conquered the hearts and bellies of the judges at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival Burger Bash with American Social’s signature Social Smash Burger.
“The experience was awesome, especially as the first event coming out of COVID,” St. Ange says. “To be able to win that, it was kind of a welcome back to the world for us.”
Made with two quarter-pound patties and a pretzel bun, the award-winner is an “upscale” burger St. Ange says offers some “subtle nuances that people just don’t expect.”
“It kind of catches them off-guard in a pleasant way,” he adds.
But for as special as it is, the award-winning Social Smash is not the burger the chef cooks up for his family and friends at home. That honor falls instead to the restaurant’s horseradish cheddar burger, a bomb of a sandwich boasting three kinds of cheese, horseradish for pungency and loads of pickled peppers, plus a layer of potato chips for crunch.
“It’s cheesy. It’s pungent. And it’s just got a lot of really, really deep flavors,” he says. “And it gets a little bit messy, too. I just think it’s a good working man’s burger.”
With a generous puddle of cheese sauce adorning the tender patty and pillowy bun, potato chips offer a key textural contrast — an essential factor of making this burger work. In Miami, St. Ange notes, it’s hard to do better than the matchstick potatoes you’d typically find in a Cuban-style steak sandwich.
“It provides some texture, and it still provides some very, very 305-type vibes to the burger,” he says of this choice. That said, when St. Ange is at home, he opts instead for a simple pantry staple: a crunchy, wavy chip.
“I made this burger into sliders for the first week of football season last year, and it went really, really well with the wavy chips,” he recalls. “You can just fit two of them on, and the circumference covers the whole slider.” He chuckles. “My tailgates are legendary.”
But St. Ange is quick to note that he can’t take too much credit for this recipe, which he inherited from former executive chef Phil Re, who passed away suddenly last year.
“It was a huge loss to the American Social family,” he says.
The recipe as it features on the American Social menu today is fairly similar to the original developed by Re in collaboration with Director of Operations Mike Herchuck, with one exception: punching up the horseradish just a bit.
“It cuts through that mouth-coating that cheese usually gives you,” says St. Ange of his one modification. “That horseradish just kind of cuts through it and opens up the palate to the rest of the flavors.”
It’s the perfect way for St. Ange to maintain Re’s legacy.
Horseradish Cheddar Burger Recipe
For the horseradish cheddar sauce:
- 2 ounces butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3½ cups milk
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 6 ounces sharp American cheese
- 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
- 5 ounces prepared horseradish
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the burger:
- 1 8-ounce burger patty
- 1 to 2 slices American cheese
- Pickled jalapeños, to taste
- 1 small bag potato chips
- 1 burger bun
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add flour. Whisk until lump-free. Add milk and whisk. Allow to simmer until milk thickens. Turn heat to medium low to prevent scorching. Add cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Add American cheese and repeat. Add cheddar cheese and repeat. Add horseradish, paprika, tabasco and salt & pepper if necessary.
Cook the burger patty to your desired temperature, on the grill or in a skillet. Just before finishing, add the American cheese to melt on top. Remove patty from grill/skillet and build your burger with its toppings, slathering the horseradish cheddar sauce on the buns and topping with pickled jalapenos and crushed potato chips. Enjoy!
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