Why Does Dry Aged Steak Taste Better
Is it really worth going through all of this trouble to dry age your steak at home?
The reason a dry-aged steak tastes so much better is that the process of aging allows enzymes to slowly break down proteins and fats into more flavorful amino acids.
In addition, as meat ages it loses moisture, concentrating its flavor. The melting point of connective tissue in meats is around 54 °C , meaning that at room temperature and normal refrigerator temperatures, aged steaks are more tender than fresh cuts.
Size is another factor a large steak will age faster than a small one per unit of surface area.
This is due to the fact that larger pieces of beef have more juices trapped inside which take longer to escape the meat during aging.
It is absolutely worth going through this process to dry age your steak at home, it tastes much better and doesnt require any expensive tools or gadgets.
Simply a refrigerator and some household items, as well as your time and patience.
What Makes Dry Agedsteaks So Special
Traditionally, meat is matured for only 7 14 days and is then only wet aged under vacuum. Dry aged meat, on the other hand, is matured for 3 6 weeks and is hung in the air. Thus, any superfluous moisture can evaporate.
The meat is, therefore, dry matured. This has a favourable effect on the consistency of the muscle tissue which becomes very soft. And, when the meat is hung on the bone it forms a special taste, which you dont get when wet aging. This method can develop a slightly sour, unpleasant taste.
Is It Possible To Dry
Simply simple, dry aging turns your meat into a taste explosion. Its the same reason we eat aged Cheddar and plunge into rotten blue cheese wheels with reckless abandon: aged food tastes amazing when done right. Flavors develop in a spectacularly nutty, pungent way that is unlike anything youd get in fresh beef. As moisture evaporates from the cut, the tastes continue to concentrate.
Steaks are aged to break down the muscle tissue, resulting in delicate flesh, explained Jack Kawa, second-generation proprietor of Omaha, Nebraskas Johnnys Cafe, which has been serving steaks near the Stockyards since 1922.
A steak can be aged in two ways. Dry-aging entails leaving the meat to age in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment, usually loosely wrapped in cheesecloth. On the other hand, wet-aged steaks are vacuum-packed in Cryovac bags. So, why is it that so many people swear by dry-aging? The explanation has to do with moisture retention. Ironically, according to Dean Poll, owner of Gallaghers Steakhouse in New York City, where Broadway stars and rumored mob lords have dined since 1927, the wet-aging procedure leaves the meat dryer.
Don’t Miss: How To Cook A Steak On A Traeger
The Art Of Dry Ageing
The story around dry ageing is really about improving eating quality and producing a unique complex range of flavours by storing fresh beef in a humidity and temperature controlled environment for a period of time. The art behind dry ageing is being capable to tell when the beef is at the point when the complexity of flavours is at its optimum while maintaining some juiciness.
Can I Dry Age Beef At Home
Have you ever wondered why the steak at a great steakhouse can taste so much better and more tender than the steaks you pull off your backyard grill? Or why they cost so much more?
Two little words: dry aging.
Dry aging is the process by which large cuts of beef are aged for anywhere from several weeks to several months before being trimmed and cut into steaks. It’s a process that not only helps the steak develop flavor, but also makes it far more tender than it would be completely fresh.
Because of the large amounts of space and precise monitoring of temperature and humidity required for proper dry-aging, it remains largely the realm of fancy steakhouses like Peter Luger, specialty meat purveyors like Pat LaFrieda, or the occasional high end supermarket like Whole Foods or Fairway.
But if there’s one question I hear more often than any other about expensive beef, it’s, “Can I dry age steak at home?”
Most experts agree that the prospect ranges from either impractical to outright impossible, but recently, I’ve heard from several reputable sources that aging individual steaks is, in fact, possible in your home kitchen. Cook’s Illustrated even goes so far as to say, “You can skip shelling out extra money for commercially aged cow.”
That’s a pretty bold claim indeed, and one that has the potential to put a dent in the business of several very lucrative steakhouses and meat purveyors.
Don’t Miss: Mcdonald’s Steak Egg And Cheese Bagel Locations
Overview Of The Best Way To Cook Dry Aged Steak
To find out more about the dry aging process itself, read our blog posts. You can learn about the history of dry aging, the timeline of the process and some of our favorite recipes. You can see our dry age fridges and the benefits of using them such as the smart features on our dry age refrigerator product page. We hope our tips on the best way to cook dry aged steak have been useful, please get in touch if you have any questions and share your dry aged steak results with us on social media.
Dry Aged Steaksfrom The Dry Aging Bag
The special material of the bag is a semi-membrane. That is, it leaves the water out and the important oxygen in, but harmful bacteria remain outside. The meat is first vacuumed in the Dry Age bag. Then it should be at a maximum of three degrees for about 21 days in a refrigerator with multi-zone cooling. Since liquid comes out of the bag, it should be stored on a tray. Make sure this does not touch any other food or sides within the refrigerator. The bag should not be moved during aging. Also in a dry aging bag, the matured meat must be cut away from the dry outer crust. If you only want to have individual steaks, you should pay attention to this.
Recommended Reading: How To Make A Good Steak
What Cuts Of Beef Can Be Aged
The carcass is often left whole to age first, then the butcher would breakdown that carcass and allow select primals to age longer. Since the dry-aging process is time-consuming and needs special care, only the highest quality cuts are selected for further dry aging.
The meats selected for dry aging should have generous marbling to ensure the finished product is juicy and flavourful. When a steak is grilled, the fat melts into the meat, creating a flavourful, buttery eating experience.
The rib and loin primals are most commonly selected to dry age further since they contain premium steaks such as the ribeye, striploin, and tenderloin.
Dry aging is usually for primals with the bone intact. Smaller cuts would not typically be selected to dry age on their own, such as a whole tenderloin, because there would be too much trim waste once the butcher removes the dried outer layer .
Misconceptions About Dry Aging
While its possible to dry-age beef at home, it is far more difficult and involved than some guides would lead you to believe.
One popular misconception is that you can dry-age steaks by lining them with cheesecloth or paper towel, then leaving them in your fridge for four to seven days. While this method dehydrates steaks , it does not properly age them. Beef needs to be aged for at least 14 days for enzymes to properly tenderize fibers, and needs to be aged for at least 21 days for complex flavors to develop. One week in a fridgecheesecloth or no cheeseclothwont make that happen.
Instead, dry-aging takes dedicated equipment, time, and large, primal cuts.
Don’t Miss: How Much Is Steak And Shake Franchise
The Safe Production Of Dry
The Food Safety Plan specifies a range for temperature , air speed and relative humidity under which the meat is held for the duration of the ageing process. The process requires meat with evenly distributed external fat content to minimise muscle waste. Primals such as shortloins, rib eyes and rumps are placed in the dry ageing cabinet, ensuring adequate air flow around the meat cuts. These cuts can be dry-aged on racks, through hanging or within a moisture-permeable drybag. For best results use fresh meat rather than vacuum packaged meat.
How To Select Meat For Dry
For dry-aging, you want a large cut of high-end beef. Prime rib is the best choice. It’s usually available in larger cuts, and can be purchased with a fat cap — which protects the meat from drying out during the aging process. The bigger the fat cap, the better protected your meat will be.
Don’t buy individual steaks for dry-aging. They will dry out before 14 days which is the minimum time period for developing new flavors. Trying to dry age a single steak is like trying to make barrel-aged cocktails with just one shot. The alcohol would evaporate before you got to taste it.
Don’t Miss: Urban Accents Chicago Steak And Chop
A Few Things To Remember
Dry ageing beef using professional equipment will deliver a different result to your home setup, so dont expect your efforts to match that of your favourite steak house or butcher just yet.
Also be wary of meat spoilage. If you think your efforts have failed and the meat spoiled instead of aged, dont push it further.
Whats The Best Way To Tell If A Steak Has Been Aged
From our Monte, Shorthorn, and Wagyu cattle, The Meat & Wine Co offers a select choice of the greatest steak cuts. Ribeye, rump, fillet, and rump eye are among them.
The tenderness, flavor, and marbling of ribeye make it one of the most popular cuts of steak. It is derived from the second half of a cows ribs, which is why it is such a soft and marbled steak.
The rump is a cut from just behind the ribs, giving it a very soft steak that is also very flavorful and beefy. A dry aged rump cut is exceptionally flavorful when combined with the dry ageing procedure, which intensifies the meaty flavors in the steak.
The fillet cut offers great softness as well as a more subtle flavor. Its a fantastic choice for individuals who are new to dry-aged steaks and want to start with something a little less beefy.
The most sensitive region of the rump, the rump eye, has a characteristic meaty flavor. This is a popular cut as a regular steak, but the dry ageing process brings out the delicate suppleness of the meat and enriches the characteristic steak flavor profile.
The Meat & Wine Co is presently presenting a dry-aged, grass-fed Monte rib eye, with other cuts to follow in the coming months. Make a reservation for your premium dry-aged dining experience right now.
Recommended Reading: Zwilling Four Star Steak Knives
How Long Does It Take To Dry
Ah, this is the million-dollar question.
The length of time you age beef affects the flavor enormously. Aging is, of course, a process of time. And what is perfection will differ from person to person. Again, experimenting is key here, so you can zone in on what fires up your particular palate.
That said, there are some generally accepted guidelines to timing, with 14 days being the absolute minimum for a subtle difference in texture . And 60 days being ripe, gamey, almost cheese-like in intensity and definitely an experience that is not for everyone.
Experts agree that 28-35 days is the sweet spot for most with beautiful bold, rich flavors developing and melt-in-the-mouth tenderness.
Here is a quick run-down on what you can expect at different points of the aging process:
Less than 14 Days
Dont bother. All that work for a barely discernible change in texture and flavor.
Things are starting to get interesting, and certainly at the end of this period, you will notice that texture is much improved, as muscle fibers break down into beautiful butter-smooth tenderness. You may, towards the end of this time, detect some deepening flavors developing. This is typically the age of steak at a good restaurant.
Getting funky now! Bold nutty ripe-cheese flavors develop along with dramatically increased juiciness and tenderness. Somewhere in this range will be your perfect Goldilocks steak!
What Is Dry Aged Beef
Just as the name implies dry-aged beef is beef that has been aged in a controlled environment, resulting in desirable changes to the texture and flavour of the beef.
The environment used to age beef is controlled for temperature and humidity. These 2 factors are maintained within a specific range so that the beef can safely age, without spoiling. Additionally, the airflow through the room from a fan, aides in the dry aging process through evaporation of moisture in the beef.
Beef that is aging is often hung by hooks or placed on wire or perforated racks to allow for maximum air flow, even drying, and to minimize spoilage.
Once the dry aging is complete, the butcher trims the dried outer layers to reveal beautiful meat cuts within.
Don’t Miss: Mr Steak 3 Burner Grill
Is It True That Dry
We all know that if you want a truly outstanding steak , you should go to a steakhouse and order one that has been dry-aged for at least a few weeks. Theres no comparison when it comes to a properly dry-aged steak: It has a deeper, beefier flavor, a more soft, buttery texture, and a slightly foul, minerally aroma. All other steaks pale in comparison to dry-aged beef. But why does a month in a climate-controlled chamber make beef taste so much better?
The exact reasons are, of course, complicated. However, well explain it in laymans words. When a piece of beef is allowed to dry-age, two things happen. To begin, naturally occurring enzymes in the meat degrade some of the collagen, which holds muscle fibers together and causes steaks to toughen during cooking. The ultimate product is significantly more delicate now that collagen has been removed. Second, because water evaporation causes beef to lose roughly 15% of its entire weight during the age process, the flavor will be considerably more concentrated and powerful. The longer the beef is allowed to dry-age, the more water it loses and the stronger the flavor becomes some restaurants serve steaks that have been dry-aged for 100 days or more. Yes, a coating of mold will form on the outside of the meat , but it will be chopped away long before it reaches your plate.
Prep The Steaks And Grill:
Bring the steaks to room temperature this usually takes 20-30 minutes after removing them from the refrigerator. Since dry aged ribeye steaks are thicker, it needs some time to reduce the chill from the fridge. This will also help cook more evenly.
Pat the steaks on both sides with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Season both sides of the steak generously with kosher salt and pepper. You can also use your favorite steak rub if you wish!
Whether using a charcoal grill or gas grill, preheat your grill to approximately 500°F. Prepare your grill to have a section of direct heat and indirect heat. I find that the best way to grill rib eye steaks is having dual zones of heat on the grill to get that sear on high heat and then to allow the meat to finish cooking over low heat.
Don’t Miss: Walmart Philly Cheese Steak Pizza
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.
What Tools Do I Need To Dry Age A Steak At Home
Believe it or not, you dont need any fancy or special tools to dry age steak at home, simply because you should use your refrigerator.
If youre anything like me, thats probably already full of beer and leftover takeout.
However, you will need a pan big enough to hold the steak and some string or butcher twine to hang it from.
Ensure you have saran wrap or cheesecloth to wrap the steak up with too.
I also recommend using a refrigerator thermometer to monitor the temperature, humidity and to ensure it doesnt go above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is important from a food safety standpoint as refrigerators arent as consistent as commercial meat lockers.
Recommended Reading: Omaha Steaks Corporate Office Phone Number