Seasoning Dry Aged Beef
As you can imagine, dry aged beef already has some fantastic flavor, and you want to season the steaks in a way that will only compliment that bold beef taste. Combine a half tablespoon of kosher salt, a half tablespoon of pepper, and a 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.
Sprinkle each side of the steak with a layer of the seasoning, and then use your hands to rub it in. Wait a minute to let the steak absorb the seasoning, and dust both sides of the steak again.
What Is The Right Way To Cook A Dry
A dry-aged steak, including dry-aged ribeye and dry-aged striploin steak, are noticeably tastier and more tender than any other types of steak available on the market. Unsurprisingly, they need to be cooked in a specific way in order to ensure that you are able to savour them to the max. Here is what you need to know.
With Careful Attention And Patience It’s Possible To Dry Age Beef At Home For Steaks With Unparalleled Flavor And Tenderness
Dry-aged beef in a cast iron skillet. Damn, that looks good. This is the only method I know of that’ll get you that steakhouse-quality charring without the benefit of a grill or an 1,800°F broiler.
Sometimes I get emails from readers that say something along the lines of “You said in article X one thing, then, a couple years later, in article Y, you said almost the complete opposite. What gives? Don’t you believe in science, and doesn’t science deal in facts?”
There’s only one kind of science that isn’t open to contradicting itself: the bad kind. Science needs to be open to accepting and considering contradictory evidence and redefining “facts,” by definition. Heck, if new theories weren’t allowed to be formed and conclusions debunked with further experimentation, we’d still believe in crazy things like spontaneous generation, static universes, or even that searing meat seals in juices. And then where would we be today?
I bring this up because, a few weeks back, I went through great pains to test and explain precisely why you cannot dry-age meat at home, no way, nohow. Today, I’m going to explain to you exactly how you can dry-age at home, how relatively simple it is, and how it can vastly improve the eating quality of your steaks and roasts until they are better than what you can buy at even the best gourmet supermarket.*
*And, unlike many sources that claim similar results, I actually have the blind taste tests to prove it!
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The Dry Aging Set Up:
THE FRIDGE: Youll need a dedicated fridge for your dry aging. When I say dedicated, I mean it. Do not store any overflow items requiring refrigeration in here- no beer, no birthday cakes, no freshly harvested deer quarters. Youre trying to create and maintain an ideal microclimate for your beef to get funky. Protect your atmosphere! Further, sharing the space with other items may lead to cross contamination of flavor profiles which manifest in the fat.
I chose the 8.6 cubic feet Edgestar model, because its large enough for me to have a starter piece, plus 2-3 additional pieces aging at one time. It seemed to me that any smaller model would not allow me enough space to have a reasonable selection actively aging. And if youre going to spend the money, then give yourself the extra space. Also take note to make sure the interior widths arent too narrow the pieces of meat youll be aging are wide and will need extra room for air flow around the edges. Conversely, a fridge that is too large may have more trouble with humidity levels. Youll notice this unit also has wire shelves youll need these to make sure airflow is sufficient.
Be sure to disinfect your fridge before you use it for the first time I used a water/bleach mixture to wipe down all internal surfaces.
How Different Is Dry Aged Steak
Lets talk about these steaks for a minute. The dry aged steak was 2 lbs 1 oz and the regular prime steak was 2 lbs 6 7/8 ounces. The dry aged steak cooked a bit quicker than the regular steak and was probably 5 degrees more done than the prime steak.
Here is a slice of the dry aged steak:
And here is a slice of the prime steak:
There were definitely some textural differences in the two steaks. The regular prime steak had a looser texture. Both steaks were plenty tender but the dry aged steak was just a bit tighter.
Dry aged steaks are known for their funky, blue cheese flavors. There were a few bites of this dry aged steak that had those characteristics. Most of these bites were around the edges. The middle of the steak wasnt too different than the regular steak. I noticed the biggest difference in flavors in the little bits around the bone. Gnawing on that bone was insanely good. Dry aging also makes a big difference in the fat of the meat. The fattier bits did have more of a funky flavor than the fat on the regular steak.
Some people arent a huge fan of the funky flavors of dry aged steak. Personally I like that flavor. A 30 day dry aged steak like this one is just starting to develop that funkiness. A 60 or 90 or even 120 day dry aged steak will have a lot more flavor development than a 30 day steak.
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What Is Dry Aging
An unsexy way to explain it is that dry-aging, in a nutshell, is a controlled decay process, says Katie Flannery, butcher and COO at Flannery Beef. Youre exposing the subprimals to oxygen, which allows natural enzymes within the meat work, she says. Theyre aerobic bacteria, so they need oxygen to survive. They come alive and start breaking down the molecular bonds of meat. This, in turn, alters the flavor and texture of the cut.
What dry aging looks like is literally a room full of moldy carcasses. In the dry-aging process, meat hangs in a humidity-controlled environment in a way that exposes all of its sides with unimpeded airflow around the entire cut. Then theres the good mold that finds its way onto steaks, which will slowly start to break down and increase the amount of evaporation, says Chris Pandel, executive chef at Swift and Sons in Chicago. Youre puling moisture from the meats over time. As that happens the mold will extend its life and grow. Its like the mold on blue cheeseits good mold not bad mold.
Of course, before that slab of beef makes it to your plate, all of the mold will be trimmed away, leaving just tenderized, funky, delicious meat, Pandel says. He describes the flavor of dry-aged meat as having a nuttiness to it that you wont get in a wet-aged steak. Likewise, itll be more tender and have a different mouthfeel.
Steak from Pandels Swift & Sons Photo: Courtesy of Swift & Sons
Proper Preparation & Cooking Of Dry Aged Meat:
Your set up is a huge part of the dry age process, but so is knowing how to treat the product when its ready to eat. There are important two factors you need to consider when approaching the preparation and cooking stage: palatibility and food safety.
PALATABILITY basically refers to how enjoyable it is to eat, both in terms of flavor and texture. Assuming all your aging parameters were correct and theres no spoilage, the only hindrance to perfect palatability is going to be the rind, or hard outer shell that forms during aging. The rind does not soften during the cooking process and so needs to be removed. Dont be stingy with your trimming here theres no point in aging steak only to have a poor eating experience by leaving rind on there.
When trimming back your rind, you may notice that there are parts of the muscle itself that have turned a brown shade. In most cases, this is nothing but oxidization of the myoglobin, a harmless color change. As long as you feel the darker areas and they seem to be the same consistency they will be fine to eat, despite not being appealing in color. Theres always a chance that the discoloration is not simply part of the myoglobin cycle, but a more concerning issue like meat that was close to an air pocket or seam which held mold. You should be able to make a judgement call here using smell and touch, but if in doubt, trim it away. Food poisoning is not fun, FYI.
AND SO TO SUMMARIZE
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The 365 Day Dry Aged Beef Project Episode : 60 Days
Youve got to watch Chef Daniel Barron take apart and cook this prime beef 107 rib with a bandsaw while describing the effects of the aging process. To check out the rest of the series, .
Once we got our hands on the beef, we gave individual ribeyes out to 3 top-notch chefs and told them they could cook it however they wanted to. This is what happened next:
How To Cook Dry Aged Steak
Before I get into how to cook dry aged steak, lets talk about the process of dry aging, and why it makes a steak tastes so much better. I found quite a few different explanations of what dry aging is, but this paragraph from the Beef Aging entry on Wikipedia explains it best:
Dry-aged beef is beef that has been hung or placed on a rack to dry for several weeks. After the animal is slaughtered and cleaned, it is hung as a full or half carcass. Primal or sub-primal cuts, such as strip loins, rib eyes, and sirloin, are placed in a refrigerator unit, also known as a hot box. This process involves considerable expense, as the beef must be stored near freezing temperatures. Subprimal cuts can be dry aged on racks either in specially climate-controlled coolers or within a moisture-permeable drybag. Moreover, only the higher grades of meat can be dry aged, as the process requires meat with a large, evenly distributed fat content. Because of this, dry-aged beef is seldom available outside of steak restaurants and upscale butcher shops
Beef aging Wikipedia
During the aging process, moisture evaporates from the muscle, creating a bolder beef flavor. Additionally, the beefs natural enzymes break down the connective tissue in the muscle, which leads to more tender beef.
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A Brief History Of Beef
Dry aging beef has always been a niche process, and butchers who wanted the improved quality of dry aged beef were able to age the beef in much different scenarios than are available in todays world. Years ago, beef processing plants would only sell whole beef, either in halves or quarters, and this is how the beef would be delivered to the butchers. The plants would process the beef, and then transport it to the butchers in a truck stacked like cordwood. If you have any old butcher shops in your neighborhood, you might have noticed that at the receiving door, there is a rail extending outside the building. This was to facilitate putting the beef quarters on wheels that could then roll right into the butcher shop.
Now if you were one of those butchers who dry aged, you were in hog heaven. The dry aging process is a destructive one parts of the meat that are exposed to the open air must be trimmed once the dry aging is complete. Because of this, the most ideal condition for dry aging beef is to receive the beef in quarters. Youve got the bones acting as a protection on one side, and a thick layer of fat on the other side.
Moving from dry aging whole quarters to smaller beef primals does not change the beneficial effects of dry aged beef, but it does increase the waste factor. As the smaller primals, they will shrink faster, because there is a smaller surface area to size ratio.
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I’ve Got Some More Questions
What about wet-aging? What is it, and does it work?
Wet aging is simple: Put your beef in a Cryovac bag, and let it sit on the shelf for a few weeks. Tell your customers that it’s aged sell it at a premium.
The problem is that wet-aging is nothing like dry-aging.
For starters, there is no oxidation of fat in wet aging, which means that there is no development of funky flavors. A minimal amount of flavor change will occur through enzymatic reactions, but they are, well, minimal. Additionally, wet-aging prevents the drainage of excess serum and meat juices. Tasters often report that wet-aged meat tastes “sour” or “serum-y.”
Wet-aging can offer the same tenderizing and moisture-retaining benefits as dry-aging, but that’s about it. In reality, wet-aging is a product of laziness and money-grubbing. It’s easy to let that Cryovacked bag of beef from the distributor sit around for a week before the bag is opened, allowing it to be called “aged” and sold for a higher price. I don’t buy it. When you are being sold “aged” meat, be sure to ask whether it’s been dry-aged or wet-aged. If they don’t know the answer or are unwilling to share, it’s best to assume the worst.
To anyone who was in the office the day I opened up that package of rotten wet-aged beef, my sincerest apologies. As Robyn described it, it smelled like “rotten excrement taking a poop.”
Yeah, it was that bad.
What about those fancy “dry-aging bags” I’ve been reading so much about?
I’ll pass on the special equipment.
Get Your Dry Aging Fridge Knocked Up
When I discovered the concept of dry age fridge inoculation, it kind of blew my mind. I had never considered it before, yet it was so obvious! Much like a sourdough needs a starter, or salami requires introduced mold cultures, your dry aging fridge will benefit from being inoculated by an already dried piece of meat.
In short introducing the right mold to the fridge gets you off to a flying start, and makes sure the correct bacterias are present from the get go. The Certified Angus Beef® dry age locker in Ohio got their starter piece from DeBragga meats, New Yorks Butcher® . And my fridge was started off by a 70 day old strip shell from the CAB facility, with DeBragga provenance. Its kinda cool to trace it back that far. So ideally, you want to start off your fridge by smearing the interior with the already-aged meats from a facility that has a good program already set up. This may require you to trace down some online options or try to negotiate with your local dry age purveyor.
So, what happens if you cant get your hands on a piece of dry aged meat and you dont inoculate? Well, nothing bad. You can still start your own fridge off, but the microclimate will just take far longer to develop. So, your meat will be tender and slightly more intensified, but will lack the funkiness of a mature dry aging facility.
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Recipe: Claudette Zepeda Wilkins Cooks 60 Days Dry
Steak served with vegetable ash sauce. The steak is seared on the coals, then on top of the kudu grill skillet. That got paired with sauteed escamoles ant larvae from mexico. That got tossed in with some fresh tomatoes, just to bring out the earthiness with the freshness of the tomatos. Garnish with a little bit of salsa in the mortar and pestle, and the cilantro criollo corainder flowers. And I really wanna showcase the escamole flavor by using fresh tomatoestossed within the sauteed escamoles, and then on top of the 60 day dry aged beef.
Mold Is Gooddepending On The Color
Mold in dry aging is like terroir. In winemaking, terroir refers to the hyperlocal environmental conditions that form the unique flavor and aroma profiles in the wines. So each region, sometimes down to the different vineyard plots, has its own unique terroir.
The mold in your fridge will be influenced by what is locally present in the atmosphere where you live. For example even though CAB in Ohio got their starter meat from New Jersey, it will have evolved over time to account for the local bacteria that can be found there. Not to mention the bacteria on the various humans handling the meat and opening the door. My fridge will be another evolution of that mold again, with a Texas twist being added into the Ohio hybrid. This is also the reason you want to make sure not to put any additional items in your dry aging fridge, and to keep the door closed as much as possible.
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Cooking Dry Aged Beef
Some people swear by cooking steaks hot and fast, but I love the reverse sear method. The reverse sear helps break down the muscle and fat even more, and the end result is one of the most tender and juicy steaks youll ever taste.
After seasoning the steaks, place them directly on the grill rack of your smoker thats been preheated to 225 degrees. I cooked these dry aged steaks with a few lobster tails and some veggie kabobs. Everything went on the smoker at the same time.
Use your meat thermometer to spot check the steaks after about 40 minutes on the smoker. They should be close to 110 degrees. When they hit 110, pull them off the smoker, and crank the heat up to high.
I left the veggie kabobs in the smoker while I turned up the heat, but pulled the lobster tails. They were close to the same temp as the steaks.
When the smoker hits 450 degrees place the dry aged steaks and lobster back in the smoker. The steak is done at 125-130 degrees, and the lobster is done at 165. degrees.
This was one of the best dinners weve ever had. The steak was full of beefy, smoky flavor, and super tender. The lobster was just right, and those veggie kabobs rounded out the meal perfectly.