A flavorful blast of onions and shallots is the first scent you’re exposed to when walking into Shake Shack’s innovation kitchen on Varick and Houston streets downtown. They’re the key ingredients to the ShackMeister burger, which has returned to the nationwide Shake Shack menu Tuesday after a hiatus since 2014.
That return has been a long awaited one, according to Shake Shack’s Executive Chef, John Karangis, who put on a culinary display in his downtown kitchen-lab on Monday.
The return of the fan favorite came as a happy medium approach to a consumer desire for onion rings, the chef explained while beer battering some shallots with the assistance of fellow chef, Nick Wuest.
“We thought this was a creative approach to adding back something like onion rings,” Karangis said.
Once cooked to perfection, the ShackMeister a hefty fella that pairs beer battered, crispy fried shallots with ShackSauce and a caramelized salt-and-peppered patty with cheese on a buttered bun — creating an exquisite balance of a crunchy and soft burger.
The process of getting there is a fun one both Karangis and Wuest demonstrated, allowing a select few to take a crack at making a ShackMeister burger themselves.
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The executive chef advised this reporter on a few lifelong pointers when it comes to not only prepping a ShackMeister burger, but tips on how to flip any patty properly.
“Always hold the spatula at a 45 degree angle and don’t bend your wrist,” Karangis advises, noting that a little friction beneath a burger’s caramelization isn’t anything to fret over.
When it comes to adding onions and other toppings, don’t sprinkle them. Place them on as close to a landing zone as possible other wise much of your topping will fall off the burger, the chef along with gravity showed.
Karangis also specified that flattening burger patties make the most of its caramelization along with some other helpful kitchen notes.
That ShackMeister burger is only one of many new items coming to Shake Shack.
Shake Shack also previewed an array of delicious shakes which will be set for purchase at the restaurant section above Shake Shack’s basement innovation kitchen and all other nationwide locations effective immediately.
These dessert goodies come in the style of Cookie Butter, Frozen Hot Chocolate, and Malted Milk Chocolate Shakes — each featuring a unique accent of flavor uncommon to competition.
The chef mentioned that the Cookie Butter shake is intended to be like a gingerbread flavor, but with a twist.
It’s also an adventurous and willing NYC audience that’s inspired a live trial for Shake Shack in the West Village — a green apple lemonade with spinach and tarragon.
“We wanted to incorporate something healthy without really having the strain of consuming something healthy,” Karangis joked.
“We find that our audience here is more adventurous than in other locations around the country,” he continued.
As someone who is less than enthusiastic towards vegetables, I can confirm little to no taste of vegetables in the flavorful lemonade.
The lemonade serves another purpose as discovered in a taste test as well—a newfound cure to the “meat sweat” phenomenon of perspiring while or shortly scarfing down a largely portioned burger, such as the ShackMeister.
This beverage also served as ground work for some of Shake Shack’s February test runs, Wuest explained.
“We’re moving towards experimenting with a lot of teas now,” he continued.
The West Village Shake Shack will be bringing in a lychee tea, which is derived from the Asian strawberry-like fruit along with a black sugar bubble tea in February and more items, the two chefs explained.
Along with those debuts, the ShackMeister Burger will be available throughout the US until March 16, according to the burger chain.