Boo! Yes, very scary. For some reason dry aging beef has become this big scary ordeal, usually left to professionals and the insane. I am not a professional. But it is really so simple it is almost stupid. Oh. Please don’t sue me if it all goes horribly awry, I don’t really know what I’m talking about. Once you have dry aged steaks in hand, read my posts about how to cook a great steak over a fire, or indoors.
Aging beef tenderizes it, whether wet or dry aged. Natural enzymes in the meat, among them calpains and cathepsins, break down connective tissue and proteins over time. Not only does that make the meat more tender, but many of the breakdown products have flavors we would call “savory”, “meaty”, and “nutty”. Dry aging beef also concentrates flavors, and helps forms a better crust. Most people like those concentrated flavors, but some find it too much.
It takes a lot of time and fridge space. You get “shrinkage” as water evaporates from your meat. You also end up having to trim away a substantial portion of meat when you are finished. You pretty much have to trim and discard the whole exterior surface of the meat, which is why you can’t dry age individual steaks.
- Get a big piece of meat
- Keep it cool. No higher than 38º
- Keep it Dry. Wrap loosely in clean towels, and change them as necessary
- Make sure it has good air circulation around and below
- Wait for 14-24 days
- Trim off the dried outer surface, and any mold, then butcher into steaks