I was having lunch with a friend this week. He was eating a nice looking grass-fed steak that he had acquired from his butcher. (Grass-fed beef is much better for your testosterone count and HDL “good cholesterol” count – if you are a man over 35, you should regularly get your t-count and cholesterol checked.)
His only complaint was his grass-fed steak is not as tender as he would like. So I recommend that he start dry-aging his meat.
Why dry-aged beef is better
All meat goes into a “rigor mortis” stage after death. Not good. So all beef is aged for a few days or a few weeks to allow enzymes already present in the meat to break down the muscle tissue.
Beef can be dry aged or wet aged. Dry aged happens in open, refrigerated air. Wet aged takes place in plastic so that the meat remains wet. Dry aging is way expensive because the meat loses water weight into the air. So if a restaurant would sell a 16 ounce steak, after dry aging, it could lose several ounces (sometimes 20% of it’s weight). That’s 20% “less steak” to charge a customer.
This is why high-end steaks at high-end restaurants cost so much more. Dry-aged beef will have more flavor and that tendency to “melt in the mouth.” (We will do a future post and podcast on the different grades of meat.)
Here’s how you can dry-age your own steak:
In the photo below, you can see the dry aged meat as dark and nasty looking. That outer level will be cutaway and reveal the precious goodness that resides within. As your Kindergarten teacher told you: “It’s not what’s on the outside that matters, but what’s on the inside.”
- Step One: Don’t use pre-sliced steaks. Buy chunks of raw meat. Get a prime rib (aka unsliced ribeyes) or a tenderloin uncut.
- Step Two: Rinse the beef from the store and pat it dry with paper towels. It must be completely dry on the outside. Wetness on the surface will encourage rot. You want to age your meat, not rot your meat.
- Step Three: Do not trim the meat. Leave all the fat. Rub some salt on the outside layer.
- Step Four: Wrap the beef loosely in a triple layer of paper towels or cheesecloth and set it on a rack over a baking sheet.
- Step Five: Refrigerate for three to seven days; the longer the beef ages, the tastier it gets.
- Step Six: You may some some “funky” spots on the outside of the meat. Do not worry. That’s natural and okay. After your 3-7 days, take a sharp clean knife and shave any dried or unusual spots. Don’t take away the good meat beneath. That’s your gold.
- Step Seven: Prepare it by cooking it whole or slice it into 1 inch thick steaks and grill them.
I’d recommend that you start with a 3 day dry age and as you get comfortable with it, extend to 7 days.
Enjoy the meat. Be the Maccabee!