Have you ever wondered why the steak at a great steakhouse can taste so much better and more tender than the supermarket steaks you pull off your backyard grill? Or why they cost so much more?
Two little words: dry aging.
Dry aging is the process by which large cuts of beef are aged for anywhere from several weeks to several months before being trimmed and cut into steaks. It’s a process that not only helps the steak develop flavor, but also makes it far more tender than it would be completely fresh.
Because of the large amounts of space and precise monitoring of temperature and humidity required for proper dry-aging, it remains largely the realm of fancy steakhouses or specialty meat purveyors… like Huntington Meats.
An Aging Primer
Here’s quick recap of what dry-aging is all about. When beef is dry-aged, there are three basic changes that occur to its structure:
- Moisture loss is a major factor. A dry aged piece of beef can lose up to around 30% of its initial volume in water loss, which concentrates its flavor. A great deal of this moisture loss occurs in the outer layers of the meat, some of which get so desiccated that they must be trimmed before cooking. Thus the larger the piece of meat you start with (and the lower the surface area to volume ratio), the better your yield will be.
- Tenderization occurs when enzymes naturally present in the meat act to break down some of the tougher muscle fibers and connective tissues. A well aged steak should be noticeably more tender than a fresh steak.
- Flavor change is caused by numerous processes, including enzymatic and bacterial action. Properly dry-aged meat will develop deeply beefy, nutty, and almost cheese-like aromas.
Because so much of the meat’s weight is lost due to moisture loss and trimming, and because of the massive storage space required for aging beef, dry-aged beef comes at a premium cost – but is well worth the price! Dry-aging facilities will age their beef anywhere from three weeks up to four months, depending on the needs of the customer.
Huntington Meats offers a variety of dry-aged beef to “meat” your grilling needs. Come visit us soon!