Dry aging is a process in which meat is hung for many weeks or even months.
Dry-aging meat aims to break down the tough connective tissue that makes the meat hard and chewy.
Dry-aged steak has a much different texture than what you would find at your local grocery store.
Its flavor also changes significantly during this process.
In this blog post, we will cover what dry-aged steak is, what it tastes like and how to cook a properly cooked and delicious piece.
What is Dry Aged Steak?
Drying is often used to preserve meat and has been utilized by cultures around the world since prehistoric times.
The process involves exposing raw meat to concentrated heat for at least 24 hours to eliminate excess moisture from its surface, leading to spoilage of the product itself.
The term “dry age” is typically defined as an aging process that takes place without the use of any water.
The most common practice in dry-aging meat is to set it on a rack over a pan packed with ice for up to two weeks, then store it at refrigeration temperature (below 32°F) until ready to eat or consume.
The surface area of the steak should be exposed as much as possible to allow the meat to dry out and increase its flavor.
Dry-aged steak has a dark, hard outer layer (called “pellicle”) that is often referred to as a “bark” or crust.
It also appears creamier in color than wet-aged beef and has a more intense flavor.
The dry-aged steak will have a tougher texture and more intense flavor than those from wet aging.
Dry aging allows enzymes in the meat to break down proteins, resulting in softer muscle fibers with less pronounced grain or mineralization when compared to fresh cuts of steak.
Dry aging also breaks down fat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful steak than those from wet-aging.
Dry-aged steak is most commonly found in steakhouses but can also be purchased online and at specialty butcher shops.
How to Dry Age Beef?
Hanging meat to dry-age is a process of leaving the beef in a cool area for two weeks or more.
The aging is done at 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit and can go up to 60 days, depending on how much time you want to spend with your beef.
This allows enzymes in the meat to break down tough connective tissues, so the beef is more tender, flavorful, and juicy.
After the aging process is complete, you can refrigerate or freeze your fresh meat to preserve it for a longer time if needed.
Drying age beef has been practiced since ancient times because without refrigeration.
This method was an effective way of preserving meat in climates where temperatures were too high to allow for safe food storage.
Dry Age Steak vs Normal Steak
Dry-aged beef can be highly marbled, and the flavor may be subtler than other cuts because the fat which slowly melts during cooking coats your tongue with lots of flavorful juices.
Dry aging also results in more tender meat due to moisture loss.
The downside is that this process takes a long time – sometimes up to 4 weeks, whereas normal beef is typically aged for one or two days.
Dry-aged meat can be pricey – and depending on the type of steak you are looking at, it could cost up to $20 more per pound than a regular cut.
However, some people say that’s worth every penny.
What Does Dry Aged Steak Taste Like? Does Dry Aged Steak Taste Good?
A dry aged steak will have a concentrated color that may range anywhere from light brown to dark red because of the breaking down of muscle fiber.
The texture will also be tougher than those from wet-aging, and the steak may have a certain amount of liquid pooling on top that results in some evaporation loss.
Dry-aged steaks often look like raw meat because they are not fully cooked before aging; this is why diners need to order them medium or less.
The meat is a deep dark red, and the fat has a yellowish tint.
The aroma of beef will have an intense, mature smell with notes of earthy mushroom or even hints of cocoa.
Texture-wise, it’s going to be chewy but not tough like wet-aged steak can sometimes be.
It might take some time for your teeth to cut through the meat, but you should be able to get a good bite.
The flavor will have more depth and complexity than wet-aged steak or normal steak because of the enzymatic reactions that occur with prolonged aging.
You’ll notice more pronounced flavors of savory-sweet beef fat, earthy mushrooms, or a hint of cocoa.
If you like aged beef without all of the hassles, this is the right steak.
It’s a great way to add some extra flavor with minimal effort and without compromising on quality.
How to Cook Dry Age Steak?
Like prime cuts of beef, dry-aged steak is expensive and worth the money if you want to spend it.
Dry-aged steaks combine an intense meatiness with a tenderness that wet-aging or quick aging techniques can’t beat.
But, how do we cook them? We’ll use two methods: Pan Sear and Grill Grate.
Pan Sear Method: First, you’ll want to sear the meat in a heavy pan on high heat for about two minutes per side – we recommend using clarified butter since it has a higher smoke point than regular butter and won’t burn as easily.
It’s important to avoid turning your steaks more than once or twice while they cook, which will lead to an uneven sear.
Grill Grate Method: This one’s easier but with a different flavor profile.
We recommend cooking your steak for five minutes on each side over high heat (or low if you’re using a gas grill).
You’ll want tongs and grill gloves – the meat will be hot when it finishes cooking.
Why Is Dry-Aged Beef Expensive?
Dry-aged beef is a cut of steak hung in a controlled environment for days or weeks, with the goal being to dry out and tenderize the meat.
The process begins by trimming away all external fat before sealing it tightly inside an airtight bag, which helps keep bacteria from growing during storage.
Dry aging can make the meat’s texture firmer and more concentrated, with a higher percentage of unsaturated fats.
Dry-aged beef is well worth its high price tag because it has a richer flavor than other types of steak due to the concentration process.
The long hang time also allows for enzymes naturally found in muscle tissue called lipase and proteases to break down the muscle fibers, increasing tenderness and improving the flavor.
One of the main reasons dry-aged beef is often more expensive than wet-aged beef is because it takes a significantly longer time to dry and age the meat.
The number of days per pound also varies based on weight, with heavier steaks aged for about 28 days while lighter cuts take just 12 even or 14 days.
In conclusion, dry-aged steak or beef is very popular in high-end restaurants, but many Americans have not yet been aware of the benefits.
Dry-aged beef tastes better than wet-aged beef because it has a more robust flavor and richer texture.
Additionally, dry-aged beef has a more pleasant aroma and can be stored for longer periods.
If you have the opportunity to try dry-aged beef, you should.
It is a more enjoyable experience than wet-aged steak or normal steak and will not disappoint.