If you visit some butchers or steak restaurants, you will see dry-aged steak listed on the menu. It costs more than standard steak and isn’t available everywhere, so what’s the deal? What is dry-aged steak and what is all the fuss about?
Dry-aged steak is kept for a while before being prepared or cooked. Rather than eating fresh from the butcher, the meat is air dried for between 7 and 120 days. The most popular is 28 days as this strikes the balance between adding flavour and being commercially sustainable.
Dry aging allows the meat to relax after being prepared into cuts. It also allows moisture to escape and increases the intensity of the meat itself. The steak begins to break down while it relaxes, increasing tenderness. All combine to make it more flavoursome and a much nicer eating experience. The longer steak is dry-aged, the more tender and more flavoursome it becomes.
Usually we have to be very careful about storing meat. Dry-aging takes place in carefully controlled circumstances where it is safe for the meat to be left in the open air. As long as the steak is cooked normally, it is perfectly safe to eat and has no downsides.
Steak aged for 7 days barely begins the aging process and isn’t referred to as aged. It will be slightly more tender than fresh steak and a slightly darker colour.
Steak aged for 21 or 28 days is aged and is the most popular duration for steak. It has begun developing more flavour and is much more tender than fresh steak. It is also darker in colour. The taste will be significantly enhanced by this time.
Steak aged for 45 days has broken down a lot of the collagen and will be exceptionally tender. The colour will be much darker than fresh steak and the fat will take on a lot of character. Steak aged this long should be cooked with the fat on as it adds a huge amount of flavour.
Steak aged for 90 or 120 days is as far as you would want to take dry aging. The steak will have a thin crust which should be trimmed before being sold or eaten. The meat will be as relaxed as it is possible to be and the flavour as intense as it gets. Because of the time and effort involved, steak this old is incredibly expensive!
Steak at The Stone Grill
We use fresh steak at The Stone Grill because of the cooking method. Dry-aged steak doesn’t work so well when cooked on a stone so we use butcher fresh steak instead. We use prime cuts of the highest quality beef obtained from our local butcher but we cannot use dry-aged steak for cooking on a stone. This is something to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
Dry-aged steak isn’t available everywhere but if your local butcher sells it, it is well worth trying. Cook it the same day for the best experience.