I might live in Colorado, but we LOVE our grill. We have a smoker, we have a propane grill, we have a fire pit. If it can be used to make fire, we cook food on it. A lot. But you can't always get to a grill outside, and frankly, I love the taste of pan fried/cooktop burgers. This method for perfect pan fried hamburgers might keep your burgers on the stove fulltime- it cooks them quickly, gives you perfectly even melted cheese, and a nice, crispy charred outside (without overdrying inside or even staying medium-rare!)
Seriously. These taste like five guys/freddies/in n out style burgers. And they won't get all puffy and misshapen!
The trick is using a burger press, and a little steam to melt the cheese.
But hold up.... I don't have a burger press! I've been meaning to buy one forever, and keep forgetting/slacking.
If you are in the same position.... no worries! If you have a cast iron pan, you have a burger press. Pretty cool, huh?
Start by forming a nice, even burger patty. I'm a big advocate of the tightly packed hockey puck shape. I also am sure to season with sea salt and pepper, and any other seasoning I'm going for that day.
Next, heat a large pan on medium and a cast iron pan that will fit inside your large pan on high. You'll want the pans hot, but not smoking. Ideally they will both be cast iron, but we don't have one large enough for more than 3 burgers at a time, so I use a nonstick pan. No worries- it just takes a minute or two longer.
When they are nice and hot, add in your burgers. Place the hot cast iron pan over your burgers so that the bottom of the pan is on top of your burgers. Cook for 3 minutes and then flip them. Use caution- your cast iron pan will really, really be very hot. It picks up more heat as you cook, even though it isnt directly touching the heat source.
If you'd like your burger medium, add another minute. For medium well, 2- and well- 4. You'll know what temp you have cooked to because the burger will be firmer when well.
When you're reading to add cheese, put a tablespoon of water in the pan, add cheese, and quickly cover with a pot lid. Turn the heat up to high and let it cook until the cheese is melted- about 2 minutes. Immediately remove from pan. Cheese will continue melting as you plate it- so you can take it off a little early.
For the recipe I used in the photos, I added KC Masterpiece BBQ rub with salt and pepper. SOOO good! I just topped with some extra sharp cheddar and an arugula mix and topped it with some whole wheat sandwiches. I actually really, really love sandwich bread as a bun- its a bit lighter and less overpowering than big fluffy rolls!