Backyard BBQ: How Cherry Street Bar-B-Que’s Lawrence La Pianta makes his Double-Stack Cherry Mac smash burger

Backyard BBQ: How Cherry Street Bar-B-Que’s Lawrence La Pianta makes his Double-Stack Cherry Mac smash burger

Now that it’s officially barbecue season, we’re asking Toronto chefs to show us what summer dishes they’re grilling in their own backyards, on their balconies or in their kitchens

Like many of us, Cherry Street Bar-B-Que owner and pitmaster Lawrence La Pianta is at home more than usual these days. We asked the social-distancing chef what summer dishes he’s grilling (or in this case, smashing) up. His recipe: a double-patty burger.

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Smash burgers bring back good summertime memories for pitmaster Lawrence La Pianta. “They remind me of visiting my relatives in the States and getting diner burgers with American cheese on them. It’s a taste-based memory that I’ll never forget.”

His signature stack at Cherry Street is a Big-Mac pretender, but made using top-shelf ingredients. “You’ve gotta use fresh, quality ground beef brisket,” says La Pianta. “And don’t even think about skipping out on the pickles—they’re an essential ingredient. You need that acid component to cut through the rich and beautiful burger meat.”

The best part of this recipe: you don’t need a backyard or a barbecue, just a stove and a cast-iron skillet. “The key here is to ensure the pan is screaming hot when you start to cook,” says La Pianta. “That’s how you can develop a nice colour and a flavourful char on the patty.” Pro tip: don’t cook the patty straight from the fridge. “Leave it out for a few minutes,” says La Pianta. “If you cook it when it’s ice cold, the meat won’t brown. Instead it will steam and turn an ugly grey colour.” Gross.

The smashed-patty stack would go wonderfully with an ice-cold beer, but La Pianta has a different drink pairing in mind. “My must-have is a creamy, homemade milkshake. I love using Tahitian Vanilla Bean from Ed’s Real Scoop for it.”

Most of what you’ll need, minus the other toppings

8oz of freshly ground Canadian AAA beef brisket
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup yellow mustard
¼ cup sweet relish
¼ cup of mayo or Miracle Whip
3 tsp of your favourite hot sauce
2 slices of sharp cheddar or raclette
1 slice of a beefsteak tomato
3 thin slices white onion, soaked in cold water for five minutes to remove the bite
Dill pickles, sliced
Iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 potato roll, toasted

The recipe

For your “secret” sauce, mix the ketchup, yellow mustard, sweet relish, mayo and hot sauce together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Get mixing


Roll the beef into two four-ounce balls. Set aside. Now get your skillet on the stove and crank the burner to medium-high heat. There’s no need to add any oil to the pan, as the burgers release plenty of juice while they cook.

That was easy


Take your burger balls and season them heavily with lots of kosher salt. Don’t be shy—get the whole ball salted. This is the only time you can season the meat. Place them in the skillet, adding some of the sliced onion on top of each one.

Your patty, pre-smash


Let them sear for one minute. Put a square of wax paper over the bottom of a soup can and then use it (wax paper–side down) to smash the patties.

Hulk smash!


Cook for three to four minutes and then flip. Cook for another three to four minutes. Now put a cheese slice on top of each patty and cover with a lid for about one minute or until melted.

Time to toast your bun. “I highly recommend Martin’s Potato Rolls, they’re are our favourite,” says La Pianta

Now for the toppings. Layer the bottom bun with some shredded lettuce, then drizzle a little sauce over it. Stack your patties and then make them saucy, too. Top it all off with a tomato slice, more onion and—the most important ingredient—pickles.

Almost done



Squish. Eat. Repeat.