When you think of dry aging, more often than not, you think of dry aged beef. Beef is our favorite meat to dry age because it truly transforms through the process. Dry aging tenderises the beef whilst enhancing its natural flavors. The result of your dry aged beef is dependent on a number of factors such as which cut you use, how long you age it for and the method you use to cook it.
Dry aged beef cuts
The most common cuts of beef to dry age are the Ribeye, Strip Loin, Tomahawk and Porterhouse. Whole sides of beef or primal cuts are hung in constant air flow and kept at a temperature just above freezing and left to age for several weeks or even several months. Those cuts are usually the larger muscle cuts that should be on the bone and still have their natural fat cap intact.
The cool temperature and steady humidity levels provide the perfect environment that will allow the natural enzymes working on the muscle tissues of the cuts to slowly dehydrate. This concentrates the meat flavor and changes the texture, taste and tenderness. The benefit of this process is very tender meat with an intense flavor. The downside is that a certain weight loss occurs due to moisture loss, which decreases the yield and increases the cost per pound. Also, the surface of the meat usually needs to be trimmed away before the beef is portioned and sold, resulting in further loss of volume.
Dry aged beef timescale
The primal cuts with the bones and fat cap can be dry aged for anywhere from 21 days to 65 days. When placing the sub-primal into the Steak Locker, it’s recommended to have the fat cap on top and bone side down. This allows for the fat to utilize gravity and impart the natural enzymes to tenderize and flavor the beef further. You can read more about the timescale of ‘how long you can keep dry aged steak in the fridge’ in one of our previous blog posts where we share what you can expect at each stage of the dry aging process. Here is a brief overview of what you can expect:
- 21 days- this is the minimum time required with dry aging to reap any benefits of the process. Before this, you are unlikely to experience any of the benefits of dry aging such as tenderness and enhanced taste.
- 35 days- We see 35-45 days as the real sweet spot for dry aging, at this point enzymes have begun to break down fats and proteins, transforming the flavor to have more savory components taking on a nuttier umami taste.
- 65 days- After 65 days, flavors truly transform to become pungent and funky, some describe it to resemble bold notes of blue cheese. Ultimately, the amount of time you choose to dry age your beef is a matter of preference.
Butchering dry aged beef
Cutting a rib roast into bone-in steaks takes a bit of patience and a lot of practice. Always remember safety first, wear a cut resistant butcher’s glove and only begin to slice when you know where your hand is in relation to the knife. Then simply decide how thick you are going to cut each piece. Be sure to use long slices from the thin edge down to the top rib, between the bones and against the grain. If you cut between each bone, you'll end up with 8-10 thick-cut steaks from each rib roast. Alternatively, you can cut one thin boneless steak and one bone-in steak for double the steaks. The thinner, boneless steaks will cook much faster than the thicker bone-in cuts.
Cooking dry aged beef
This part is simple. Refer to our many other blog posts for cooking details and recipes: