Dry-aging beef at home is not recommended by food safety experts as they believe there is a risk of food-borne illness.Imagine a plate of delicious, tender juicy steak accompanied by a glass of robust red wine―sounds like pure bliss, doesn't it? Cooking and seasoning the beef can alter its taste significantly. However, there are other ways in which you ensure that the beef tastes the best. One such method of transforming the beef and adding flavors to it naturally is by dry-aging it. If you have ever savored a nice, dry-aged steak, you would know how flavorful and tender it is. So, what exactly is dry-aging, and how does it change the flavor and texture of the beef?
About Dry-aging Beef
When we dry-age beef, we are essentially creating conditions that allow the beef to be broken down by the enzymes. The enzymes in the meat break down the muscle tissue, resulting in improved texture and flavor. To do this, portions of the meat are allowed to rest in carefully controlled temperature and humidity.
In butcher shops, the meat is hung in walk-in refrigerators or placed on a rack to dry for weeks. This is often done for several weeks or even months to allow the enzymes to break down the collagen which holds the muscle fibers together and makes the meat tough. Due to the dry-aging process and breakdown of collagen, you are left with tender protein that has wonderful concentrated flavors. On the outside, there is a tough shriveled "crust" with some amount of fungal growth that forms on the meat's surface. This is trimmed off when the meat is prepared for cooking.
While it may taste delicious, you do need to shell out quite a lot to have this tender aged beef. Check out the mind-boggling prices of dry-age beef in steakhouse menus. As a third or more of the weight is lost as moisture, dry-aged beef is not readily available in supermarkets. So, what do you do when you want to have succulent, tender dry-age beef? Well, you could simply try doing it at home.
Tips to Dry-age Beef at Home
Well-aged steaks have a wonderful beefy and complex flavor. Another way of aging beef is the wet-aging method, which is more popular and commonly used. The beef is placed in a vacuum-sealed bag which helps to retain its moisture. The moisture is retained in the bag, and the meat ages in its own juices. Although this prevents moisture and weight loss of the beef, it does not provide the concentrated wonderful flavors of dry-aged beef.