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Were my hamburgers "fried"?

I made hamburgers last night on our handy cast iron skillet, no fat or any oil added--naked. They were delicious and my SO loved them. Since she's always on a diet though, she said she couldn't eat them again like that because they were "fried". Argument ensued about whether they were fried or not. She says yes; I say no.

I suppose I could have broiled them instead, but I didn't.

Question is: Were they fried?

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  1. Yes, but the SO's argument as to why she can't eat them makes very little sense.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Erich

      Agreed the argument makes no sense. Technically you probably "pan-fried" them (as opposed to deep-fry), which is similar to saute except you don't turn them as much. Though you could argue that since you didn't "add" fat that it doesn't fit into either of these techniques. . . . semantics really . . .

      From a diet standpoint it wouldn't change the calories really if you did it this way, broiled, or even grilled really.

    2. I think technically, yes. But to the extent that frying often implies cooking in oil, no.

      But I get your distinction - the result was different from what you would have gotten if you'd fried them in a regular pan with some oil...

      She probably owns a George Foreman grill.

      1 Reply
      1. re: inaplasticcup

        +1 on your opinion.

        Putting them in a pan without oil will render the fat out of them. Depending upon how much fat they had to begin with, they were either cooking in a lot of their own fat, or a negligible amount. I wouldn't call them fried. What you did is exactly what a restaurant does on their griddle.

        Frying, to me, means that you pour cooking oil, or use solid cooking fat, into the pan and the food cooks by mostly by contact with the oil, not the bottom of the pan.

        Do you own a grill pan with ridges? That may be the key to solving your problem. As for the GF grill, I stopped using mine when the burgers started tasting like they were steamed.

        Consider also telling your SO that lean meats, such as those with 7% or less fat, are way ahead of the 80-20 or 75-25 stuff you find in restaurants and in the bargain meatcases.

        I think this is more of a perception issue than a real complaint.

      2. yep, they were fried...or maybe you call it an extended saute

        1. I think the term is "pan broiled".

          1 Reply
          1. re: Big Easy

            Yes, that is exactly the term. Frying requires extra fat. Dropping meat into a hot dry skillet is not frying. The sole exception is something like bacon, which throws off so much fat that if it's not constantly drained it does fry. Perhaps if your burger patties were fatty enough - I know the ground beef we had 50+ years ago often was! - you'd need to drain off the excess to keep them from frying, but at our current levels of 15-20% fat, and just two patties, you are definitely pan-broiling.

          2. I think there's two issues here, one of terminology, and one of health and diet.

            Terminology is debatable - an egg cooked this way is a "fried" egg, but butter is added. I wonder if the burger would be considered "fried" if you put it under the broiler in the cast iron skillet? The end result would be the same, fat-content wise. Alternately, cooking in a grill-pan on the stovetop, is this grilled? Fried?

            My two cents - not based on significant research, mind you - is that if you are going to eat a beef hamburger, you should eat it however you enjoy it best, because the health differences are going to be negligible between cooking methods. Even a steamed patty is still going to be a hunk of beef. Sure, don't wrap it in bacon, don't batter it and deep fry it, but the differences between a skillet and a broiler and a grill just aren't significant enough to worry about. If you are on a diet, limit hamburger intake, period. Maybe you two could agree to making them once a month, and not worrying about the cooking method.