Cooking for your family and friends is much different than being a 5-star chef, but that doesn’t mean your food can’t be just as high quality. Dry-aged meat is one of the many ways professional chefs create flavorful, tender cuts of meat that drive the dinner guests crazy, and our grilling expert, Matt, has come to prove that you can dry-age your meat just like the professionals, in your own home.
Before you Begin
Before Matt tells us all about his dry-aging experience, there are a few things you will need to grab:
- A section of space in a fridge: You don’t need to use a separate fridge, but keep in mind that this meat will be sitting for at least 14 days. This process can dry out other items in your fridge and make them smell…well, like aging meat, so it’s best to have a separate mini-fridge.
- Rack for your meat: This rack will make sure that the meat is aging all the way around. You don’t want the meat to be sitting right on top of the pan with your salt.
- Pan to sit the meat rack on: This is the pan that will hold your salt and the meat rack.
- Salt: Matt used Himalayan salt.
- A Large cut of meat: You need to make sure the meat is large enough that you will be able to trim some portions off after the meat has aged. Matt used a 10lb New York Strip. Yum!
- Knife: This will be used to cut off the excess meat that becomes hard during the dry-age.
Matt’s Dry-Age Process
- Start by getting out all of your ingredients and tools. Then, pour your Himalayan salt so it covers the bottom with a small layer of salt.
Sit your meat rack with your large cut of meat on top of the pan, and put all of it in your designated fridge (I used my own fridge and kept all fridge settings the same).
- Age your meat anywhere between 14-28 days (I chose to age my meat for 28 days) in a standard refrigerator.
- Once your meat has finished dry-aging, take it out and trim all of the hard parts that resulted from the aging process (except for the fat. Only trim the discoloration off the fat).
- I cut my loin into 1.5″ steaks and cooked on the grill at 700+ degrees to quickly sear the meat and keep a medium rare finish.
Tips From Matt
Matt is very happy with his first dry-aging experience. However, after speaking with him, it’s obvious that he wants to give this another shot, and there are a few things he would change:
“I’m going to purchase the Umai bag because I also want to cure my own charcuterie alongside my meat. Those two things use humidity very differently, so the bag will allow me to do both at the same time.”
- The Umai bag works a lot like a vacuum sealer. It holds in the meat and releases the moisture, which saves your fridge from that nasty meat smell and helps with the dry-aging process.
“I am also going to try for a 60-day age. There is some flavor change in the 28-day, but the biggest difference was texture. I want more of both, and I think the 60-day age will give me better results”
“The last thing I’m definitely going to change is the grade of meat I use. I’m going to purchase ‘prime’ beef instead of ‘choice’. The quality of meat you work with will change your result, so I plan to upgrade and see how it changes my final product.”
Frequently Asked Dry-Aging Questions
We had a lot of feedback from our dry-age Facebook post, so we wanted to answer some of the more frequently asked questions here. If you have any questions that aren’t covered in this section, feel free to post them in the comment section. We’ll answer any questions that you have, so you too can make delicious aged meat anytime.
Q: What are the benefits of dry-aging?
- There are three main goals of dry-aging meat; moisture loss (to concentrate flavor), tenderization, and flavor change. Taste tests have proven that aged meat is more tender and flavorful than fresher meat.
Q: What meat can be dry-aged?
- The most commonly aged meat is beef. This is because, generally, other meats are tender enough, to begin with.
- Numerous factors determine how much a particular meat will benefit from aging. Lower grade meats actually benefit more from aging, so a “select” cut will respond better than a “choice” graded cut. Also, tougher muscles will react more to this process than others, but you will most likely be buying more than one type in your cut since you want a large portion of meat to start out with.
Q: What temperature should my fridge be for dry-aging?
- You don’t need to change any of the settings in your fridge for this process. As long as the meat stays under the “danger zone” (40ºF or higher), you won’t have any issue with bacteria growth.
Q: Do I HAVE to have a separate fridge in order to dry-age meat?
- The short answer is, no. You don’t need a specific refrigerator for the dry-aging process. That being said, you are letting the meat sit in your fridge for long periods of time, so that is going to start to smell. Also, this process is removing the moisture from your meat. If that meat is sitting in the same fridge as your veggies that need moisture, you could be ruining other foods.
- Some cooks like to use compact fridges to keep their dry-aging meat separate.
Q: How long should I dry-age my cut of meat?
- You should age meat for at least 14 days. At this point, the flavor will not have changed all that much, but your cut will be more tender. The following information is based on the Serious Eats taste test:
- 14-28 days: The meat is tender, but there is not a major change in flavor. You will find that the closer to the 28-day mark your meat ages, the more tender it will be.
- 28-45 days: Smell starts to get stronger at this point, and at the 45-day mark, the meat is moister, juicier, and there are distinct notes of blue in the meat. Taste testers preferred 45-day-aged meat the most out of all other processing times.
- 45-60 days: This is the point when the richest, most intense flavors emerge from the meat. A few taste testers truly enjoyed the richness of this cut, though a handful found it to be a little too much flavor for them to handle more than a few bites.
- 60+: There are only a few locations that age their meat longer than 60 days. These meats are usually only served in slivers because the taste is so strong.
Have you ever tried to dry-age meat? Have any tips and tricks of your own? We want to hear from you. In the comments section, start up a conversation with us so we can all be chefs at home!