| | Power Athlete Dry Steak Brine

Author / John

Power/Field Strong Athletes enjoy your first rest day.  You have put in 4-6 days of new training and have earned a day off.

Down the line, the program might call for more days of training but when learning new movements it helps us to not over load the system too early.

I have been working on a bunch of new stuff for Talk To Me Johnnie and this includes a nutrition/cook book with the Charles and Jules from Paleo Comfort Foods.  Think Power Athlete diet with kick ass recipes and pictures.  I am very excited about the project, and as it moves along I will share recipes and information as it comes up with Power Athlete Nation.

And Bulking Protocol III & IV are in the queue, so keep an eye out for that.

For 18 months, I have been experimenting and searching for how to cook the “perfect” steak.  For 13 years, I cooked everything on an open grill (Big Green Egg) using lump wood charcoal.  My steaks and grilled meat were damn good but whenever I would hit a high end steakhouse I always wondered what they were doing.

While traveling as an NFL player and teaching CFFB seminars, I have been known to frequent good steakhouses; one of the few perks of being on the CFFB traveling staff.  My questions for the chef always went back to cooking method and I was always slightly shocked that almost all prime steakhouses seal and broil with a very high temp with gas. And after amazing experiences at Prime 121, Cut and Chicago Chop House, I learned it is all about the heat, not the fuel.

I came home, put my grill away and bought a big cast iron pan and started using my gas oven for my steaks.

I learned long ago, the secret to cooking any meat is brining the meat before cooking. Here is an explanation of brining.  Personally, I use a dry brine most days for steaks, but always use a wet brine for pork and poultry.

Brining is a process similar to marination in which meat or poultry is soaked in brine before cooking.  Salt is added to cold water in a container, where the meat is soaked usually six to twelve hours.  The amount of time needed to brine depends on the size of the meat.  More time is needed for a large turkey compared to a broiler fryer chicken.   Similarly with a large roast versus a thin cut of meat.

Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked, via the process of denaturation.  The brine surrounding the cells has a higher concentration of salt than the fluid within the cells, but the cell fluid has a higher concentration of other solutes.  This leads salt ions to diffuse into the cell, whilst the solutes in the cells cannot diffuse through the cell membranes into the brine.  The increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water from the brine via osmosis.   The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins.  The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix that traps water molecules and holds them during cooking.

dry-brine-salt-best-steak-CrossFit-Football-Power-AthleteGo to the butcher and buy a nice cut of meat around 1.5″ thick.  Or do as I do, and buy an entire GF cow and have it conveniently sitting in the freezer in the garage.

Bring it home and liberally salt both sides of the steak with sea salt and put it back in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  Let the salt melt into the meat and be pulled inside, the longer the better.

Place a big cast-iron skillet in the oven and turn it to 500 degrees F.  Pull the steak from the fridge and bring it back to room temperature.

When the oven reaches 500 degrees F, remove the skillet and place it on the range on high heat for 5 minutes.  Cut off a big hunk of pasture-raised butter and liberally sprinkle/grind black pepper in the butter.

Immediately place the steak in the middle of the hot skillet.  Sear the steak for 60 seconds without moving.  Turn with tongs and cook another 60 seconds, then put the pan straight into the oven for 2 minutes.  Flip the steak and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  (This time is for medium-rare steak in my oven) The time is going to depend on your oven as some ovens are “hotter” than others…don’t ask my why but I have an extremely hot oven.  And I have found different cuts of meat cook to desired temperature at slightly different times.  When I make steak, I like a ribeye and my wife likes a filet.  The ribeyes always take less time to cook than the filet, as the filet are usually a bit thicker.  It might take you a few times to perfect the steak and find the perfect time for cooking, so keep that in mind.

Here is another key, remove the steak from the skillet, cover loosely with foil and rest for 2 minutes; you have to let the meat rest.  Serve by pouring the remnant juice over the steaks.

This pairs nicely with a Pinot Noir or big Cabernet and a vegetable.

All fun and let me know how it goes with the steak.


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John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.


  1. joga on May 1, 2015 at 5:23 am

    I posted this when it appeared on the first FS Sunday, but this is the best shit and I have done it countless times since. I had no idea how to cook a steak and make it taste restaurant-quality until this article so thanks.

  2. Colt on May 2, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Just cooked this filled up my whole house with smoke and the smoke detectors were going crazy but the steak was perfect

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