If you know anything about me by now, you know that my mother was ahead of the curve in the “healthy” department. So in my childhood, hamburgers were enjoyed as a rare, fast-food treat supplied by my dad when my mom wasn’t looking or at backyard barbecues, mostly hosted by neighbors or extended family. I can’t recall ever making hamburgers, grilled or pan-fried, growing up.
My husband, however, will tell you that his father would whip some hamburgers up on an almost weekly basis. His dad would pan fry to perfection the juicy patties and they would serve them up on toasted white bread if no buns were available. Cheese was an option but most of his family just enjoyed a plain hamburger. (The thought of no cheese just gives me an anxiety attack!)
The choice of beef in a “pan fryer” is important. You really can’t use any diet techniques here. You have to have enough fat to keep the burger juicy. So use a high-quality 80/20 blend or grind your own. Forming uniform-size patties helps to keep cooking times consistent. A little dimple/divot in the middle of the patty keeps it from puffing up.
Toppings are important
I don’t put the same toppings on a “pan fryer” as I would a grilled burger. Maybe it has to do with the weather…grilling + outside = summer toppings. When I pan fry, I just feel the need to go old school and replicate the diner-style burgers my father-in-law made.
A thick slice of tomato, raw onion rings, cheese, ketchup or A-1 (or both) and some pepper rings are all you need. Tip: soak the onion rings in white vinegar for a few minutes to take some of the “raw” off the onions. Drain and use right away.
Do I even need to mention that you always toast the bun – buttered too.