Alton Brown's Trick For Flattening Burger Meat And Maintaining Structure

Sometimes you don't need fancy kitchen tools to accomplish a task. When a dish requires you to flatten the meat until it is paper thin, a meat mallet or rolling pin can do the job in a pinch. However, in an episode of "Worst Cooks in America," Alton Brown revealed if you don't have either of those two gadgets in your culinary arsenal and need to pound or roll the meat into a flattened, thinner version of itself, you can always use a cold bottle of wine to get the job done.

Using a cold bottle of vino like a rolling pin, the "Good Eats" host demonstrates how this trick can perfectly flatten hamburger meat to make sliders. The benefit of using this method is simple. It will keep the meat nice and chill so it holds its form and doesn't become a mushy mess, and it will help achieve an even thickness ensuring your sliders cook uniformly. Of course, if you are going to use a bottle of wine for this step, it is important you start with a full one for the added weight to get a nice thin layer of meat.

Use a sheet pan to further flatten the meat

For an even firmer sheet of rolled-out hamburger meat, Brown recommends rolling out the meat onto a sheet pan. Once he has the meat to its desired thickness, he covers it with frozen, wet paper towels. Why does he do this? The more you handle hamburger meat, the closer the fat inches its way toward room temperature. This is called smearing and causes that fat to cook quicker, which can also cause the meat to lose its moisture. The cool towels help avoid this mishap and keep the fat firm so the patty holds its shape.

To keep his bottle of wine clean and free of any meaty residue from his beef, Brown places a piece of plastic wrap over the meat before he rolls it out. The cookbook author then takes a pizza cutter to cut-up square-shaped sliders and fries them up on a bed of diced onions. He cautions that these sliders are going to be well done, as all sliders should be. Additionally, Brown notes there is only one kind of cheese that should ever touch your slider and the bun and that's American cheese. 

Another bonus to using wine for this step? Once your sliders are ready to eat, you can uncork the bottle and enjoy it alongside your meal.