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Home Cooking

Dry Aging Meat at Home

vikingkaj | Dec 20, 201510:29 AM     8

This is also included in a larger post, but I am re-posting as a standalone for anyone who is look for a quick guide to dry aging at home.

First and foremost, the practice of dry aging or hanging meat was not originally developed to improve flavor. A hundred years ago it was standard practice for almost everything. In the days before commercial refrigeration things were hung in a cool dry meat locker to help keep them from spoiling, and usually spent some time in the locker before being further processed.

Hanging or aging almost any type of game or beef improves flavor and tenderness.

This is especially true for venison and pheasant:

http://honest-food.net/2012/10/20/on-...

http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/how...

Dry aging does not work well for pork or chicken, since these are usually slaughtered young and are pretty tender. If you had an older free range rooster that might be an exception.

I've been dry aging beef and lamb at home with good results for about 10 years now. I don't do it all the time, but will do for special occasions.

My thoughts on how to do this successfully are as follows:

Ideally you want to age the largest piece of meat you can find with the bone in. Large cuts such as sides of beef, prime ribs, whole loins (bone in porterhouse), lamb saddles & legs, are best. If you are buying beef, go for USDA choice and look for good marbling. Wash your hands carefully, unwrap the beef or lamb, and dry it with a paper towel.

You don't need to wrap the meat in anything and especially not cheese cloth. A rack, or hanging, helps to keep the air circulating and avoids wet spots. Wet spots are the enemy, as they can encourage bacterial growth. If I'm doing it on a rack I rest a piece of paper towel over it to keep dirt from landing on it, that's it.

You want to age in a dedicated refrigerator where you don't open the door too often. Opening the door often varies the temperature and humidity, and also introduces bacteria. I usually age beef in my "beer" refrigerator that I keep in the garage. As long as you don't open the door too often, the refrigerator itself will continue to dehumidify the meat as a by product of the refrigeration process, so you do not need a fan.

5-8 days already shows a benefit in terms of tenderness and flavor as this gives the enzymes in the meat a chance to work and concentrates the flavor. This is contrary to what Kenji and others have written in on-line guides, but is supported by the Missouri department of agriculture post above for venison (50 F for 5-8 days). If you want to get a seriously altered flavor to the meat (aka the bleu cheese effect on beef) you will need to go longer.

With dry aged whole cuts of beef or lamb, when you are ready to use you may see a white mold or have dry spots on the surface. You should cut these off before freezing or cooking.

Right now I am aging a small prime rib (sterling reserve, choice angus, 6-7 lbs) for Christmas. So far it has been in the beer fridge for about 5 days and is starting to develop a pleasantly cheesy aroma. I plan to go about 10 days and will report back.

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