Aged steak is more tender and flavorful compared to the normal steak you purchase at your local store. The main reason behind this effect is that aging enables enzymes to break down complex connective tissues in steak, and allows water to evaporate away.
It might sound a bit weird to some people, but when it comes to beef, fresher is not always better. In fact, good steak should be aged for a few days before conception. What does this process entail and what is its effect on the quality of meat?
There are two main methods of aging steak – dry aging and wet aging. This article will have a look at both of them, and will give an in-depth analysis of how these processes take place.
Although there are people that prefer wet-aged steak, most people opt for the one that has been dry-aged. This is because only small enzymatic changes happen when wet aging, leading to minimal changes. This means that wet-aged beef will have a more metaling and bloody taste. On the other hand, dry aged steak will have a richer, fuller, and more complex flavor.
How to Dry Age Steak
Here are steps you need to follow to dry age steak from home:
Make Your Refrigerator Ready
The first thing you will need to do is make your refrigerator ready for dry aging. You will have to limit changes in humidity and temperature levels on your refrigerator. It is critical to keep your steak at the right humidity and temperature levels to ensure an effective aging process. Having a separate freezer for this purpose is highly recommended.
Nevertheless, if you do not have access to another refrigerator, you can still use your regular one. However, you will need to clean out all possible contaminants because meat absorbs strong odors and flavors from the surrounding. Therefore, foods like fish, garlic, and cheese should not be stored in the same refrigerator with aging meat.
Preparing the Meat for Dry Aging
The first thing you need to do here is select high quality a large and high quality cut of meat. You want your steak to be the kind that implements quick cooking methods such as rib steak, and New York Strips. Try to avoid small cuts as much as possible, because dry aging causes a lot of moisture loss, causing these pieces to shrink in size.
The other thing you have to do when preparing the meat is to examine its color before storing. The color helps you know the tenderness of the steak, and assists you to determine the exact time the aging process should last. Light beef should be aged for more than 7 days, while darker beef should not be dry-aged for more than a week.
The final thing you have to do is unwrap and thoroughly rinse the steak. Make the meat dry by patting it with paper towels, and then wrap it in cheesecloth.
Dry Age Your Steak
The final step of dry aging entails placing your steak in your refrigerator for the designated period. You can place your meat on a tray or place it directly onto a rack of your freezer. After the first day, remember to rewrap your steak to eliminate fibers left behind by the paper towel covering. After this, you can go ahead and age your steak for the period you had determined based on its coloring. During the aging process, you will realize that the steak develops an unpleasant smell. This could have a negative effect on other foods in your refrigerator. That is why we recommend that you have a designated freezer for dry aging.
After the end of your dry aging period, you can now remove the steak to cook it. Before preparing your meal, you should consider shaving off the dry exterior parts, which are most likely not edible. Underneath this hard surface, you will find the tender and flavorful steak. You can cut this meat into small portions, cook, and enjoy.
Wet aging is one of the most common methods used to age steak. Wet aging entails vacuum sealing steaks, which is a similar method used when freezing meat to prevent freezer burn. Since wet aging requires little time, less equipment, and does not cause loss of product, it is cheaper and easier to find.
How to Wet Age Steak
To wet age steak, start by choosing a prime cut of beef, like tenderloin or filet. Afterward, enclose the meat in plastic using your vacuum sealer. Place this sealed plastic bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator, which is usually at the bottom shelf. The aim of using a sealed plastic bag is to prevent the steak from absorbing odors from the surrounding. Doing this also allows the steak to age in its own blood and natural juices. Leave the steak in the refrigerator for not more than 7 days. When ready to cook, remove it and cut it into small pieces. It is good to note that this type of aging can impart a sour or metallic flavor to your meat.
Great things come to those who wait. This is true in life, and in steak. Aging meat offers a great payoff in terms of enhanced tenderness and flavor. This article has provided a deep analysis of the two main methods of aging steak – dry aging and wet aging. The process aging process for the two is quite different. Wet aging does not require a lot of equipment or time. On the other hand, dry aging requires controlled refrigerators and takes longer. Many people prefer dry aging because it gives meat an extra depth of flavor. Nevertheless, dry-aged steak is quite expensive, mostly due to the equipment used and the long time taken. On the other hand, wet-aged steak is a bit inexpensive but not as tasty as dry-aged one. Whichever type of aging you decide to go with, you can be sure that aged steak is much better than fresh steak.