I still remember the intense flavor and juiciness of that thick piece of Sirloin. Crusted in the name of Kona, Bone-In and Aged Dry. It was an exceptional dining experience at the Capitol Grill in Houston, Texas. It was the event that gave me the inspiration for this two-part blog post.
In this first part, I will introduce you to my little home project where I try to dry age Sirloin steaks at home. In part two, we will see the results. When? Well, in about 60 days my friend — when the meat is — say, middle — aged.
Dry Aging TL;DR
Dry aging of meat refers to the process of storing meat over a long period of time in a dry environment. This is different from traditional wet aging, where the meat is kept in a vacuum bag over a shorter period of time. Both ideas aim for increased tenderness, intensified flavor — not to mention the prolonged preservation time, which in fact is a common denominator behind many of the world’s culinary specialties. The Rakfisk of Norway is one golden example of this: trout is kept in a bin with sugar, salt and water. A controlled form of rotting process starts, and you can consume the fish over the course of months. One side effect is some very special taste and — uhm — smell properties! Same is true for many other specialties as well.
Dry aging is rooted in the same bio culinary paradigm as sour dough: you want your bio climate to be meat (or dough) friendly, and develop to the better over time. A good dry aging fridge (or room) can develop to the better over the years. It will be a unique bio climate colored by the natural microbiota in that environment.
Instead of going on to explain all the fancy sides of dry aging, I point you to Jess Pryles blog. Read on and you will learn everything you need to know. You will also notice a crucial “fact”: Dry aging is not for the home chef.
Because if you slice your meat into individual steaks before you proceed, they will basically come out as cured ham, eventually — dry and hard. Point is not to cure the meat! Original idea is to remove the outer dried layer before cooking and consumption. If you dry age individual steaks, they will be dry all the way through. Traditionally, dry aging calls for whole cuts of meat, and you will loose something like 5-10% from removing that outer dried layer after aging. So, either you go buy that large whole cut of meat, and accept the loss, or you stick to that boring wet aging, is it right?
Not quite! It turns out that Casper Stuhr Cobzcyk has developed a new dry aging technique where he first dips his (still) whole cuts of meat in melted butter to form a cocoon protecting the steak from drying out on the surface. It reminds me about cheese waxing!
If you combine the thoughts of Pryles and Stuhr Cobzcyk, I figured it would allow for dry aging of individual steaks at home, since the melted butter cocoon will protect the individual steaks from drying out at the surface, and, hence, you will not need to remove the outer layer nor will they be cured!
Butter probably acts like sort of a “let-moist-out, not-let-oxygen in”-barrier. This in turn, brings up a lot of questions Mr. Stuhr Cobzcyk does not answer. He probably has them, but why should he really share them with the world. For example, what is the optimal thickness of the butter cocoon? Unfortunately, I don’t know all the answers yet.
I decided to put strings around my two steaks, before dipping them in. This allowed me to hang them in the fridge rather than letting them sink into the rack and potentially create a butter mess.
Dry aging started: 27th of October, 2018.
We aim for 60 days, so dry aging stops: 26th of December, 2018.