June 6, 2010: A little over a week ago, while in bed watching late night tv, I stumbled upon a good eats episode that focused on aging steaks at home using a porterhouse steak. I trust Alton Brown, and from his shows, I have yet to be pointed in the wrong direction, so I kept the idea in the back of my mind. Then an opportunity presented itself, and off to the experimentation we go.
Starting off first, I picked up two rib eye cuts from my local costco. I like getting my beef and other meat products from costco. Aside from good cost savings, the quality of meats is beyond anything I have found elsewhere. So for this experiment, not wanting to attempt this with too much meat for there is always the possibility that things can go seriously wrong, we'll start with baby steps.
Next up is a before and after picture of the same steak before and after the aging process. Notice the change in color, as well as the obvious change in weight. The same steak went from 1 lb and 6.5 ounces to 1 lb and 3.6 ounces. Which is a loss of 2.9 ounces, which is roughly about 13% of the weight in about 9 days of aging.
The process taken from the Good Eats episode follows fairly closely. A little tin setup with bamboo skwers is built so that the steaks have ample air movement around the meat for maximum liquid evaporation.
With the rig set up, the steaks are wrapped in paper towels, placed on the rig, then placed in the bottom slide out shelf of my fridge. To help contain any smells or keep the steaks from becoming tainted by other smells in the fridge, the pull out "humidity" controlled drawer is used. The paper towels are changed out daily.
The aging process on the show suggested 4 days. On various websites and forums, I've found that most folks age their steaks between 4-6 days. I've gone a little overboard by going to 9 days. With the steaks ready for cooking, they are removed from their resting place a full hour before cooking. Half an hour before cooking, the steaks are salted. In the following picture, the salt has done the job of pulling more moisture from the steaks leaving the steak looking like it is sweating.
Since I do quite a bit of grilling, I have all the necessary tools that Alton used in his show, so setting up a similar set up was very easy.
Using the charcoal starter cylinder, the steaks are placed on the grill plate, then the started cylinder with about a pound of good wood charcoal already lit and buring away, is placed directly on top of the steak. This creates a very hot broiler, which sears the meat while keeping the juices on top. The steaks are cooked for 1.5 minutes on each side.
After being seared for a minute and a half on each side, the steak is pulled and placed on another grill top, this time placed on top of the cylinder, and using a metal mixing bowl, a make shift oven is created. The meat is then cooked for another minute on each side. During this time, the other steak is placed into the broiler section of the setup. This set up will give you some medium rare steaks.
With the grilling done, the steaks are pulled off and kept on the grill plates to rest for about 10 minutes. And after resting, the meat is cut and we have a perfectly medium rare, dry aged, rib eye steak. And having only seasoned the piece of meat in salt, the true flavors of the meat is appreciated. There is definitely a difference in flavor; and I will definitely be revisiting this method when preparing a well planned out steak dinner at the house.
June 6, 2010: First attempt at aging steaks at home.