What is dry-aged beef and how is it different?
Dry-aged beef is meat that has been allowed to age for anywhere from 2-4+ weeks in a refrigerator. During the aging period, 30% or more of the moisture in the meat evaporates and naturally occurring enzymes break down the structure of the meat. The result is an ultra-tender piece of meat with more concentrated natural flavors compared to beef that has not been dry-aged.
Where can you get dry-aged beef?
High-end restaurant menus are the most likely place you’ll find dry-aged beef. In most cases, restaurants take care of the dry-aging process in house. The vast majority of supermarkets won’t carry dry-aged beef due to the effort and cost involved in the process, and you certainly won’t find it at big box stores like Costco. Aside from dry aging your own beef, the best way to get your hands on some are specialty butcher shops like The Meatery!
Why is it more expensive? Is it worth it?
Dry-aged beef is more expensive per pound mainly due to the moisture loss inherent in the dry aging process. What may start out as a ten pound cut may only be seven pounds or less at the end of the aging process. Additionally, only higher grades of beef like USDA prime are suitable for dry-aging as the process requires high quality meat with large and evenly distributed fat content.
We think dry-aged beef is worth every penny! Not only is it made from a high-quality cut of meat, but the aging process imparts a flavor that is difficult to describe if you haven’t experience it for yourself.
Are all dry aging processes the same?
In a word, no. You may see beef at your supermarket that claims to have been dry-aged as part of the normal processing. Most beef is, in fact, dry aged for some period after slaughter before being further broken down into the traditional cuts. The difference is that this short period of aging is technically dry-aged, but since the animal hasn’t yet been broken down into smaller cuts, there isn’t enough surface area or time for the moisture loss and flavor concentration to occur.
How should dry-aged beef be cooked?
A dry-aged steak is different than a non dry-aged cut, but with a few simple adjustments you’ll be on your way to a delicious and perfectly prepared steak.
Dry-aged beef already has a lower moisture content, so we recommend cooking it no more than medium-rare (130 – 135oF internal temperature). Unlike a regular steak, at medium-rare the steak won’t be “bloody” due to the lower moisture content. Also due to the lower moisture content, be sure to add any seasoning containing salt right before cooking so the salt doesn’t pull the moisture out of the meat.
For the actual cooking, bring the steak to room temperature, remove any surface moisture and quickly sear both sides to lock in the moisture. A very hot skillet works best, but a this can also be done on a hot grill. After searing, transfer the steak to lower, indirect heat and keep a close eye on it to avoid over cooking.
After removing from the heat, let the steak rest! Allowing the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes allows the juices (and taste) to redistribute throughout the meat so they don’t all run out onto the plate when you cut into the steak.