The phrase “You won’t know until you try it” has never been more applicable than when talking about dry-aged steak. While the term may not sound appetizing, and the appearance of dry-aged steak isn’t helping the case, the end result is remarkable. Dry-aged steak is incredibly tender and condenses the meat’s flavor so that your steak tastes even better without adding any extra ingredients. If you’re ready to taste this sumptuous wonder, let this article be your guide to dry aging your very own steak at home!
Choosing a Cut
Unfortunately, you can’t use just any cut of beef to dry age. While you technically don’t have to use steak, it’s easier to find a steak that meets the requirements of a cut suited for dry aging. Ideally, you want a high-quality prime-grade cut with plenty of evenly marbled fat. The cut should be sizable with a thick fat cap to protect the meat from harmful bacteria and ensure it doesn’t become overly dehydrated. If you dry-age a single steak, you’ll lose a lot of water during the process, and the cut can become very small.
What You’ll Need
While your kitchen doesn’t need to be equivalent to the ones seen in Michelin-star restaurants, you’ll need a few tools to safely dry age your meat. You’ll need the following:
- Designated refrigerator: This will help you control the temperature and humidity and keep it consistent.
- Wire rack: Remove the shelves from the fridge, replace them with the rack, and hang the meat from there.
- Cheesecloth: Wrapping the meat in cheesecloth allows air to reach the meat and absorbs moisture so that the cut loses less water content.
- Tray: Place this at the bottom of the fridge under the meat to catch the drippings.
- Small fan: A rubber gasket should be around the edge of the fridge door. Cut a small hole and fit the cord through, allowing the fan to run and provide circulation without breaking the seal.
- Sharp knife or knife sharpener: Once the aging process is finished, the meat will have a hard outer layer, and you’ll need a sharp, quality knife to cut through it.
The Dry Aging Process
The dry aging part is easy! It’s all the waiting that can be the hard part.
You first want to pat dry the beef with a paper towel and wrap it in cheesecloth until the entire surface is completely covered. Then, prepare your fridge with the tray, rack, and fan. Don’t allow the meat to touch the sides of the fridge, as the airflow won’t reach this part and won’t dry the meat properly. Finally, keep the door closed! The more you open it, the more the temperature and humidity levels will change. This also makes it easier for harmful bacteria to get in.
Finally, you’ll reach the most important part! Dry aging improves meat’s flavor for a number of scientific reasons, but keep in mind that the longer you let it dry age, the funkier the taste will become. You can allow the meat to dry age for as little as a week or up to a month. One month is the average amount of time a cut is typically dry-aged, but some people enjoy the gamey, blue-cheese-like flavor of meat aged for two or more months.
Hopefully, this guide to dry aging at home takes some of the fear out of the craft and makes it easier for you to enjoy this deliciously matured steak. Slice, season, and roast it, and never let food snobs tell you what you can and can’t do!