When you hear the meat has been cooked in its own fat your first association may be duck confit. But a beef burger may be cooked in its own fat, too, beautifully so and in much shorter order, if there’s enough white marbling running through the red meat, a good cooking surface with enough intense heat underneath it for searing and a border wall to keepeth the rendered fat. The grease shall not runneth over.
To effectively fry a burger in its own fat there is no better cooking tool than a cast-iron-skillet. As the patty sears and sweats over the pan’s heavy bottom the steep rim gathers the oozing juices into a shallow pool. More of the patty’s surface than just its flattened top and bottom gets encrusted in this bath of sizzling fat as the browning meat develops flavour and eventually caramelises (see Maillard reaction).
Little Social chef Cary Docherty uses a cast-iron pan to cook London’s best burger. And, as you see in short video above, Brindle Room chef Jeremy Spector uses two cast-iron skillets to cook what Josh Ozersky, the dude who wrote the book on The Hamburger, insists is New York’s best burger.
Coincidence? I don’t think so. The low-tech cast-iron skillet, at about £30/$50 for a good one without glazed enamel (nice but unnecessary), is the ultimate burger cooking machine.