Did you know you can make dry aged beef at home? And why would you want to anyway?
Well, if you’ve ever gone to a serious steakhouse and tasted their steaks you know the depth of flavor is remarkable. It is because they use dry aged beef. Dry aged beef is generally hard to come by, and very expensive.
Now, all fresh beef is aged for at least a few days and up to several weeks to allow enzymes naturally present in the meat to break down the muscle tissue, resulting in improved texture and flavor. These days, most beef is aged in plastic shrink-wrap — a process known as wet-aging.
Dry aged beef, on the other hand, is exposed to air, so dehydration can further concentrate the meat’s flavor. Because the meat loses weight from dehydration, and it also must be trimmed of its completely dried exterior, it is more expensive than wet-aged meat, and harder to find.
The first step to making dry aged beef at home is actually a food safety note. Home refrigerators aren’t as consistent or as cold as commercial meat lockers.
Next, buy a prime USDA boneless beef rib or loin roast from the best meat source in your area. USDA Prime meats are produced in limited quantities for use in the finest restaurants, hotels and gourmet markets. They are well marbled and have thick coverings of firm fat. Your local grocery store will not carry this type of meat. Unwrap the beef, rinse it well, and pat it dry with paper towels. Do not trim. Wrap the roast loosely in a triple layer of cheesecloth and set it on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet or other tray.
Refrigerate for three to seven days; the longer the beef ages, the tastier it gets. After the first day, carefully unwrap and then re-wrap with the same cheesecloth to keep the cloth fibers from sticking to the meat.
When you are ready to roast, unwrap the meat and, with a sharp knife, shave off and discard the hard, dried outer layer of the meat. Shave away any dried areas of fat, too, but leave behind as much of the good fat as possible. Roast whole, or cut into steaks.
For a truly special occasion, like a Christmas or New Year’s dinner, dry aged beef is more than worth the extra time and effort!
Making your own dry aged beef at home is an all too often overlooked strategy to all but a handful of gourmet cooks. There is absolutely no reason you should not add this method to your personal culinary arsenal. People will be amazed!
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