Pan-Seared Steak

By E.M. Burton

In Nutrition

April 30, 2012

PDF Article

It takes skill to produce a fine stove-top steak. E.M. Burton explains.

Early this March, Dr. Walter Willett, chair of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, published a study that followed over 100,000 people for more than two decades. As noted in the March 24 L.A. Times story “How rare should red met be?” Dr. Willett found “the amount of red meat they ate was linked to a rise in premature death.” Willett notes, “We looked at total mortality. … We did see a linear, step-wise increase in risk of dying prematurely with higher red meat consumption. … It does appear that the data are quite strong.”

He added, however, “When you get down to maybe one serving of meat or less per week the risk gets pretty low.”

As yet, there is no data being gathered to chart CrossFit athletes’ meat consumption to test the impact of diet combined with 20-plus-years of high-intensity functional movement. Until such time as we have the results of such a study, when cooking for my family I keep the red-meat consumption to the lower part of the protein list, after chicken and fish.

However, there are times when life calls for steak, and you should know how to pan-sear a steak to perfection on top of a stove.

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16 Comments on “Pan-Seared Steak”


wrote …

There are no good studies that come to the red meat is bad conclusions.


wrote …

Great link and counterpoint Skott, thanks!


wrote …

Let's not pander to these "scholars" and their "research".

Of all the food on the planet there is precious little that is healthier than a fatty cut of meat from a grass-fed ruminant.

Eating less red meat and more chicken because of that study means the health terrorists have won.

Don't let the terrorists win.


wrote …

Thanks for the link, Benjamin. Post-hoc hypotheses are all too easy to make, and let's keep in mind that correlation does not equal causation.


wrote …

Benjamin, great link, *thank* you. And Mark, Mike and Colin, thank you, as well. I read those comments with a smile on my face.

I have a question, something I'm curious about with respect to "As yet, there is no data being gathered to chart CrossFit athletes’ meat consumption to test the impact of diet combined with" pick any number of years of performing CrossFit WODs. I wonder, would you be interested in such a study, or I should say, such data gathered, either as a participant or to know the results? I'm not asking to inflame; it's a genuine curiosity.

I appreciate the feedback (...and the foodie in me wants to know how you like to cook your grass-fed ruminants?). Best!


wrote …

Just tried the recipe, delicious!


wrote …

Good stuff, thanks for the cooking advice!


wrote …

I'm inclined to believe that the quantity of nitrates found in most grocery store meat has more to do with premature death than does the meat itself. Just sayin'...


wrote …

Keep red meat red. I prefer mine rare to medium rare. Same tips apply for the grill. Get your heat right. Put meat on, turn meat once.


replied to comment from E M Burton

Mr. Burton,

I use bacon grease (from my own pigs that I raised on constantly rotated pasture and fed a soy-free, organic, non-gmo feed) or when I'm out of that, butter, to sear the steak.

I can't imagine using rancid, processed canola oil, not when tastier, healthier fats are available.

I ask restaurants to use butter too.

Other than that, just salt and pepper. And I like to let it get to room temp before I sear too, if possible.


wrote …

In my five years of doing Crossfit, this is the worst article that I've seen HQ put out. Willett's study is a joke and every top Paleo based doctor, scientist, or analyst has slammed it repeatedly since it was published. It might be a good recipe, but do some research before you publish a study that has been peer reviewed and judged to be BS. I didn't think conventional wisdom had a place in CF?

Here's another piece on the study:


wrote …

Excellent recipe Mrs Burton. Thank you!


wrote …

I stopped reading the recipe right after seeing the words canola oil. This recipe is a recipe for disease. Yes, red meat is bad for you if it is cooked in poison.


wrote …


Although canola oil is low in saturated fat, is high in monounsaturated fat, has what is considered a beneficial omega-3 fatty acid profile, is endorsed by the American Dietetic Association and the American Heart Association, and has been given a health claim by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there are certainly no shortage of claims regarding its potential detriments to health.

Where there's smoke, there's fire: This may be one issue that comprises part of a larger shift in the field of nutrition. I agree that better choices of oil/fats are available with fewer red flags.

Thanks for identifying the issue.


wrote …

the recipe below is the best steak i have ever had....


replied to comment from Adam Palmer

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