Dry-Aged Beef = Excellent Flavor

Roast_round 

This topic I am about to cover is an ongoing debate between the “Hungry” Hubby and me. He is a tenderloin kind of guy, I’m a rib-eye kind of gal. Lately though I’ve changed my tune when I discovered dry-aged beef. Abandoning my fat-laden standby, I have gravitated towards the flavorful dry-aged (DA) NY strip – the HH though remains adamant that his un-aged tenderloin tastes better and he does not like the texture of dry-aged beef.

When Roseda Black Angus Farm offered me a chance to sample some of their products – Black Angus DA beef, who am I to say no?

The first one I sampled was their sirloin steak. I was expecting a tough cut of meat but even if my knife did not go through smoothly, it did not require much effort. The meat was sweet and juicy and has a flavor that lingers on the palate. It was merely seasoned with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.

I had my reservations about cooking the top round roast. The only cuts I have roasted before are standing rib roasts. I salted it ¾ tsp per pound and stuck cloves of garlic all over and let it sit for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Before cooking at 350F, I sprinkled freshly ground black pepper, rubbed a thin coating of sugar and then slathered the roast with olive oil/sesame oil mixture. I used a meat thermometer to gauge doneness. We like ours to be medium-rare which is 140 F, if you like it rare, then 120F.

I overcooked my roast at the thin end and unfortunately that part got dry. The roast was still tasty and had good flavor but the lack of marbling did not make it a very exciting cut.

The best tasting so far is the DA NY strip that I always get from a personal chef friend of mine. When grilled, the exterior gets crusty but the interior is juicy, complex and has a robust, rich, beefy taste that has a hint of nuttiness.

So you are probably scratching your head – what exactly is dry aged beef?  My contact at Roseda Farms has this to say about it: 

“We dry age our meat for 14-21 days, about a week longer than the majority of beef producers.
 We also dry age the entire carcass. (We believe we're one of the only beef producers in the country to do this.) Immediately after harvesting, we hang the beef in a refrigerated cooler, where the temperature and humidity are strictly controlled. Over the next 14-21 days, moisture  evaporates from the beef, leaving a greater concentration of rich, beefy flavor. Additionally, the beef's natural enzymes break down the more fibrous tissues, tenderizing the meat. This entire process is what provides the outstanding taste and tenderness of dry aged meat”

And Harold Mc Gee has this to say:

Aging Generates Flavor

“The aging of the meat is mainly the work of the muscle enzymes. These enzymes attack other cell molecules indiscriminately, turning larger flavorless molecules into smaller, flavorful

fragments. They break proteins into savory amino acids; glycogen into sweet glucose”

(This accounts for the sweetness I usually pick-up from this meat.)

…And Diminishes Toughness

“An enzyme called calpains weakens the supporting proteins that hold the contracting filaments together. Others like cathepsins also weaken the collagen in connective tissue. This causes more collagen to dissolve into gelatin during cooking making the meat more tender and succulent. The weakened connective tissue squeezes the meat less which means it loses less moisture during cooking.”

            I checked out Roseda Farms website and their prices are pretty reasonable for their cuts of meat especially their sirloin steak. Their DA NY strip is almost comparable to the ones I get. For roasts I really recommend standing rib roasts but they can be quite pricey.

Locally, I have seen dry-age cases at Whole Foods but I have not tried them nor do I know if they are more expensive than what I get them for which is around $20.00/lb for Black Angus Dry Aged NY strip.

Overall they are more expensive than their regular supermarket counterpart, but that’s only because they take more time and effort to produce and they lose a lot of weight in the aging process. Unfortunately quantity (weight) matters a lot with the bottom line, which is why you rarely see dry-aged beef in supermarkets and usually only at high-end steakhouses. For your foodie friend, I think they would make a great gift and for you – perfect for that special occasion (it sure beats that $50 a pop that you may pay at a steakhouse). Trust me, their taste is definitely worth the extra price – bar none.

 

Have a great Thanksgiving!!!