Dry Aging Steaks at Home
I’m a big fan of dry-aged beef. At least compared to wet-aged beef. But I was always under the impression that individual cuts couldn’t be aged by themselves — whole primal cuts were the smallest that could be safely aged at home.
But in the March 2010 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, they talked about a method of aging individual steaks at home (membership required) by wrapping them in cheese cloth. From their article:
To try replicating these results at home on a smaller scale, we bought rib-eye and strip steaks (each $10.99 per pound) and stored them in the back of the refrigerator, where the temperature is coldest. Since home refrigerators are less humid than the commercial units used for dry-aging, we wrapped the steaks in cheesecloth to allow air to pass through while also preventing excessive dehydration and checked them after four days (the longest length of time we felt comfortable storing raw beef in a home fridge).
I thought I’d give this a try, at least for a couple of days at first, rather than four.
And believe it or not, it worked well. I took a nice organic t-bone steak, wrapped it up in cheesecloth, and put it in the back of the bottom shelf of my refrigerator. I left it for two days and then salted it and cooked it up. And I felt that it was comparable to dry-aged steak that I buy from my local Whole Foods. It was definitely richer and more tender than a regular steak. As Cook’s said:
Sure enough, four days of dry-aging in a home fridge gave the steaks a comparably smoky flavor and dense, tender texture. As long as you remember to wrap the meat in plenty of cheesecloth, place it on a wire rack for air circulation, and store it in the coldest part of the fridge, you can skip shelling out extra money for commercially aged cow.
I will definitely do this again — in fact, I may never eat another steak without aging it for at least a little while. I suggest giving this a try if you like dry-aged beef.
Alton Brown recently aired an episode of Good Eats (“Porterhouse Rules”) where he described a similar method. Only he made a home made rig to hold the steak using pie plates and wrapped it in paper towels instead of cheese cloth. But with two of my favorite sources of food information agreeing that this will work, I’m satisfied that it will work. You can find the recipe for the episode here.
Get out there and grill some steaks! Yes, that is a picture of my own grilled porterhouse at the top of this post. Interested in grillmarks? Read about my opinion here.
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