What is Dry-Aged Beef and Why Does it Make for Better Steaks?
Find out what makes this pricey meat so special.
Dry-aged beef is a process that tenderizes steaks and essentially draws the moisture out of the meat. This process adds a deeper flavor to the meat and causes the beef's natural enzymes to break down the connective tissue in the meat, which helps to make your steaks much more tender.
This process goes on from 7 to 120 days and it pretty much creates a fungus crust on the meat, basically acting as a controlled decomposition. This actually sounds pretty gross, so why are these steaks so much more expensive than a normal steak? A 16-oz dry-aged steak will cost you a pretty penny, around $45 to $60 on average and even more at high-end steakhouses.
Here's the reasoning:
The conditions in which dry aging happens means that the meat is changing but it's not actually spoiling. What is happening is a level of bacterial growth that ends up tenderizing the meat and rendering it much more flavorful. The outer fungus is actually cut off from the meat before it's cooked and what's revealed inside is a steak that melts like butter in your mouth. The meat will lose about 15% of its weight, making what remains more concentrated in flavor.
You need to think of dry-aged steak almost like fancy cheeses, sometimes the moldier the better. The longer the beef ages, the more of a crust it will grow and the deeper the flavor changes to an umami or slightly blue cheese kind of taste.
All of this comes down to the question of: is this process of dry aging worth the money? Die-hard or even amateur steak-lovers will probably argue yes. In the end, what you spend your money on is your choice, and if that happens to be a big, juicy, dry-aged steak, then go for it.
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Chef Tips and Tricks
Looking for an easy snack or party appetizer? These little beef pockets are a pinch!
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 lb ground beef
- A pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- Mix flour, sugar, salt, milk, and water in a pan, and mix until you form a dough.
- In a saucepan, heat a splash of olive oil and add the onion. Cook on medium-high until onion has softened.
- Add the ground beef, and add the salt, water, and tomato sauce. When the meat has browned, remove from heat.
- Dust a flat surface with flour, and roll out the dough into a flat sheet.
- Use a ramekin or cup to cut out circles.
- Add a dollop of beef-tomato mixture to the center of each circle.
- Pinch the dough into a little pocket.
- Bake in the oven at 350° F for 15 minutes.